Varicose Veins in Women
Varicose veins, you’ve seen them, those twisted, engorged, purple veins on the legs. There are many reasons that someone may develop varicose veins in their lifetime, with gender being on of these reasons. Is there really a difference between varicose veins in men and women?
Varicose veins are the same on men and women and can affect both men and women, but affect women at a higher rate.
What is the difference between men and women that causes a higher rate of varicose veins?
1. Hormonal Changes
The menstrual cycle is the cycle by which women move through their monthly cycle of menstruation through ovulation for preparation for pregnancy. The hormones that are responsible for the menstrual cycle are estrogen and progesterone. These hormones vary over the course of the month long cycle. These hormones directly affect both the valves within the vein and the vein wall, causing dysfunction and weakening, leading to varicose veins.
Just like during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy is also regulated by progesterone and estrogen. During pregnancy, these hormones change dramatically, leading to weakening valves and thinned vein walls. Another factor that is present during pregnancy is increased volume of blood in the body. With the changes to the veins from the hormones and the increased blood in the body, this creates increased risk for the development of varicose veins.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
The symptoms of varicose veins tend to have a gradual onset, meaning that they may begin as having an unsightly appearance, but then over time, they begin to become painful with swelling, heaviness, and cramping in the legs. Due to their unsightly appearance, women seek out medical attention early, typically before a lot of the pain and symptoms start in the legs.
In the case of men, they tend to await until the varicose veins become a problem and are painful. This most commonly translates to women having less advanced disease and less complications from their varicose veins than men when they first present for a medical evaluation.
Treatment for Varicose Veins
Men and women can undergo the same type of treatments for varicose veins, which take into account the affected areas, overall health, medication, and any prior varicose vein treatments. Pregnant women are the exception, as they cannot have any procedures for their varicose veins during pregnancy, but may use symptomatic conservative treatments.
Meet ABMS Board Certified Surgeon, Dr. Mackay
Contact the office of Dr. Edward Mackay, a board certified vascular surgeon providing services to patients in the Tampa area.