Pelvic varicose veins and labial varicose veins are forms of venous insufficiency by which women’s pelvic, labial, or vulvar veins become enlarged and dilated during pregnancy and continue after the baby has been delivered. Varicose veins during pregnancy is also closely associated with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, which is chronic pelvic pain resulting from varicose veins in the pelvis or vagina. Some estimates indicate that around 30% of all pregnant women will end up with varicose veins during pregnancy. While all pregnant women are susceptible, this condition is most common with women ages 20-45 who have multiple pregnancies. Pelvic varicose veins typically start to develop around the fifth month of pregnancy, but are normally not treated until after the baby is born. Vulvar veins (varicose veins around the vagina) most often develop later in the pregnancy.
Causes of Pelvic and Labial Varicose Veins
Although it is not fully clear why varicose veins sometimes develop with pregnant women, experts believe that the most likely causes are:
- Weight Gain: Putting on weight is unavoidable during a pregnancy that is carried out to term. Unfortunately, this added weight can have some adverse effects, like putting a great deal of stress on the veins and valves, particularly in the pelvic and vaginal areas.
- Fluid Retention: This is closely related to weight gain. The fluid that is retained causes further weight gain and exacerbates the pressure on the veins and valves, sometimes causing one or more veins to become engorged with blood.
- Increased Estrogen Levels: During pregnancy, the estrogen levels in a woman’s body go up. Since it is known that estrogen can make vein walls weaker, it is believed that increased levels of this hormone may also place greater amounts of stress on the veins.
- Anatomy: Some experts believe that the onset of labial and pelvic veins is due in large part to simple changes in the anatomical structures of veins that occur during a pregnancy. The belief is that these changes make veins in the pelvic and vaginal areas more prone to the onset of varicosities.
Symptoms of Pelvic Varicose Veins
While a fair percentage of pregnant women develop varicose veins during pregnancy, in their pelvic and labial areas, a large number of them fail to report it or get it treated either because of embarrassment or lack of education about this condition. Women in the Jacksonville area should be aware that there are several symptoms that may indicate varicosities in the pelvic or vaginal areas. They may include:
- Dull pain that is varying in degree depending on the circumstance (times when the pain may be worse are at the start of a menstrual cycle, after long periods on her feet, at the end of a day, following intercourse or in the latter months of a pregnancy)
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Swelled vulva
- Lower backaches
- Aching legs
- General fatigue
Pelvic and Labial Varicose Veins – Treatments
Treatment for pelvic, labial and vulvar veins has come a long way in recent years. In the past, surgery would have been the only viable option. Today, however, ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, like what is performed at St. Johns Vein Center in Jacksonville, can locate affected veins that are hidden from plain view in a minimally invasive way. Sclerotherapy may not be right for everyone and as always, the most appropriate treatment plan will depend on your individual condition. For more information on causes, symptoms and treatment for pelvic, labial, and vulvar varicose veins, contact our Jacksonville clinic today. We appreciate your business and we look forward to serving you!