Why Women Are More Likely To Develop Varicose Veins

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Do you ever look around and wonder if only women get varicose veins? Although men have them as well, it seems women are most often blessed with “the gift”, doesn’t it? The reality is varicose veins are a very common disease process, affecting millions of Americans based on their heredity, age, injury, hormones, pregnancies, and sedentary lifestyle.

But did you know only one in ten men vs one in three women are affected by varicose veins in the United States?

So, what makes women so much more likely to have these pesky veins? Let’s take a deeper look at varicose veins, their causes and why they tend to impact women more often than men.

Varicose veins in women

The Dreaded Varicose Veins…

First, let’s talk about what makes a normal vein become varicose? Arteries bring oxygenated, nutrient rich blood to the cells in your body, simple. The veins’ job is to bring un-oxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs. Normally, a combination of valves inside the veins, along with the muscles in your legs, help blood flow back toward your heart. However, if the valves inside the veins in your legs break, the venous blood flow, along with its waste products, can’t get out of the leg properly, allowing venous flow to move backward, towards your feet. Over time, this backward flow, or pooling of blood, can cause spider veins and the bulging, twisting veins we know as varicose veins.

What exactly causes varicose veins in women?

What makes women unique? Hormones…. let’s just sit on this for a moment. Many of the things that make women unique are, in fact, due to our hormones. From the way our bodies are shaped to the ability to have children, our hormones make us unique and beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, in some cases hormones are not helpful, particularly in the development of varicose veins.

Let’s start with progesterone. Progesterone is an amazing hormone that helps women regulate their cycle and gets the uterus ready for pregnancy. However, fluctuations of progesterone can cause the vein wall to weaken and expand. Over time, the veins can expand so much, the valves are unable to touch and close, allowing blood flow to move toward the feet instead of the heart. This can lead to continuous damage and breakdown of the vessels, leading to the bulging, tortuous varicose veins we can see under the surface of the skin.

Pregnancy causes progesterone levels to dramatically increase. As the baby grows, the volume of blood circulating throughout the mothers’ body significantly increases. Hormone changes, weight gain, higher blood volume and pressure from where the baby sits all combine to increase the stress and pressure on the veins in the legs considerably, putting the mother at a higher risk for developing varicose veins. While these veins may return to normal or get smaller after giving birth, each subsequent pregnancy increases the risk for additional vein disease.

Learn more about how to treat your varicose veins during pregnancy.

On the flip side of this, the drastic drop in progesterone and estrogen levels during menopause can also lead to a weakening of the vein walls and cause varicose veins. Fluctuations of estrogen, specifically low levels of estrogen, can cause weight gain. Just like in other areas of the body, obesity can strain the circulatory system, putting additional pressure on the veins in your legs, causing them to fail.

While these hormonal pitfalls can lead women to have to deal with varicose veins more frequently than men, there are plenty of unique advantages to being a woman. I am personally grateful and proud to take on the benefits as well as challenges involved in excelling as a woman in this world, hormones and all!

What can women do to help with varicose veins?

If you’re worried about your varicose veins, fret no more. Several options, including lifestyle changes, exercises, and specialized vein procedures are available to you. Learn about our minimally-invasive approach to vein treatment.

Schedule your consultation today

Prioritize yourself…. seek treatment with a specialized vein physician

Let’s talk seriously for a minute… most of us are “too busy” to make time for ourselves. We have careers, families, chores, and a myriad of other reasons we put ourselves last on the list. The truth is, taking time for yourself should be at the top of the list so that you are ABLE to complete the mountain of other tasks. So think about your legs, do you experience aching, heaviness, pain, restlessness, muscle cramps or see bulging, varicose veins?

How long have you been experiencing these issues? Now that you know they can be fixed, what are you waiting for? It’s time to prioritize YOU!

Meet with a vein specialist today

Medically Reviewed by

Amanda Wiegel
MSN, APRN, FNP-C
Amanda Wiegel is a nurse practitioner at Vein Clinics of America with extensive knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment of varicose vein disease and related vein disorders. Amanda earned her Bachelor's from the University of Houston and a Master's Degree of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner Program from Texas A&M. She now specializes in ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy that results in healthier legs for her patients.

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