Varicose veins during pregnancy

Pregnant woman

In many ways, pregnancy can be a time of phenomenal changes in the female body. When a woman is preparing to have a baby soon, she may experience unexpected side effects. This can include thicker hair growth, shine and hardened nails, glowing skin, and an increase in breast size and fullness.

Unfortunately, not all pregnancy changes are desirable or enjoyable. There will be significant weight gain, mood swings, and frequent urination. This is due to the fact that, due to the restructuring of the hormonal background, pregnancy is accompanied by profound changes in the female body. The veins also change significantly - their tone decreases, the permeability of the walls increases, and blood flow slows down. Varicose veins are one of the diseases that appear for the first time during pregnancy or that can actively develop.


Varicose veins of the lower extremities are persistent and irreversible varicose veins that can be traced back to gross changes in their walls as well as an inadequacy of their valve apparatus due to a genetic defect. The main factors in the appearance of varicose veins are hereditary weakness of the vascular wall. Secondary factors that lead to varicose veins are persistent stress on the lower extremities.

Statistics show that 40-65% of expectant mothers will develop varicose veins at least once in their life. Most overweight women suffer from varicose veins during pregnancy.

Although varicose veins are the most common in the legs, they can appear elsewhere. Convoluted veins can appear on the buttocks, vagina, or vulva, especially in late pregnancy. This happens when the lower abdomen and uterus put increased pressure on the veins in these areas.


As pregnancy increases, a number of changes occur that create the conditions for varicose veins.

  1. First, as the uterus grows, it puts pressure on the inferior vena cava - the largest vein in the human body. Excessive pressure causes blood flow to slow down, which puts more strain on the veins in the legs that hold more blood. This leads to varicose veins on the legs during pregnancy.
  2. Second, the female body produces more blood during pregnancy to support the developing baby and the uninterrupted supply of oxygen and nutrients to the placenta and fetus. Because of the increased stress, the veins have to work harder to pump carbonated blood from the extremities and pelvis back to the heart. This can lead to valve insufficiency and the accumulation of blood in the legs, ankles, feet, and other areas.
  3. Third, increasing the level of female sex hormones during pregnancy decreases the tone of the smooth muscles in the walls of blood vessels (especially veins). It can also contribute to varicose veins in pregnant women.


Varicose veins are considered a hereditary predisposition. If the mother or grandmother suffered from varicose veins during pregnancy, the woman's risk of developing the disease increases dramatically.

The incidence of varicose veins increases with age, weight gain and each subsequent pregnancy. If a woman has twins or triplets, the risk of developing varicose veins on the legs in pregnant women doubles.

Lifestyle and work habits (long hours of standing or sitting immobile) can also cause varicose veins.

Symptoms of varicose veins in pregnant women

Some women have slightly swollen, twisted, multicolored veins in their legs - just a cosmetic problem. In other cases, varicose veins cause uncomfortable symptoms during pregnancy - swelling, pain, or severe discomfort in the legs. In all women with varicose veins in their legs, this is a key sign of varicose veins. If left untreated, venous damage can lead to serious complications, including blood clots, phlebitis, and trophic ulcers. In addition, the risk of a fatal complication - PE (pulmonary embolism) - increases.

Varicose veins during pregnancy

During pregnancy you need to watch out for signs of varicose veins:

  • swelling in the area of ​​the legs and ankles, feet;
  • cramps or pain in the thigh or lower leg;
  • tiredness, heaviness in the legs;
  • Restlessness, especially at night, desire to keep moving legs;
  • itchy, dry or pale skin on the legs, burning;
  • twisted, protruding "stars", larger twisted veins;
  • wounds on the legs or ankles that take a long time to heal or that do not heal at all;
  • leg pain that goes away when a woman walks or lifts her legs.

Will the varicose veins be worse during pregnancy?

Unfortunately, varicose veins often worsen during pregnancy. As the saphenous veins expand, fidget, swell and become more visible, women notice increasing pain and other symptoms (swelling, skin changes, heaviness).


If a woman develops symptoms of varicose veins, it is imperative to see a phlebologist. After a detailed physical examination, during which the condition of the feet, ankles, legs and thighs is carefully assessed, the doctor confirms the presence of varicose veins and rules out possible complications (using ultrasound and vascular Doppler). Varicose veins in the vulva are noticed by the gynecologist during a routine examination.


Most often, surgical and minimally invasive procedures for the treatment of varicose veins are not prescribed during pregnancy. This is associated with a high risk of complications and relapse. In addition, the prescription of drugs is very limited - phlebotonics, anti-inflammatory agents, antiplatelet drugs.

There are a number of guidelines that will help treat varicose veins in expectant mothers safely and relatively effectively.

  • Dosed physical activity. Swimming, walking, or other exercises for pregnant women with varicose veins that involve the muscles of the legs help increase blood flow to the veins of the extremities. The phlebologist, together with the obstetrician-gynecologist, selects an individual set of exercises for a certain period and severity of the pregnant woman's condition.
  • Properly fitted shoes. High heels and a completely flat sole interfere with the movement of the muscles in the legs and impair the blood flow to the venous blood. You need to choose sturdy, comfortable shoes with a small heel (3-4 cm).
  • compression jersey. A compression garment must be worn to support the veins during pregnancy. The phlebologist individually selects the degree of compression and the type of product - knee socks, stockings or tights. You have to put them on in the morning without getting up and take them off in the evening when the woman goes to bed.


There are a number of tips for preventing varicose veins in pregnant women, compliance with which will help to ease the course of the disease and reduce discomfort:

  • Don't cross your legs. Sitting with one leg over the other blocks blood flow through the veins and can lead to an increase in pressure.
  • Change position. If you have to sit or stand at work all day, change your posture as often as possible. This prevents blood from pooling in the legs.
  • Sleep on your left side. As your belly gets bigger it becomes difficult to lie on your back. With varicose veins, try to sleep on your left side, not your right. This prevents pressure from the uterus on the veins in the abdominal cavity and helps with blood flow to the lower extremities at night.
  • Lift your legs. Lift your legs more often as the day progresses. Ideally, they should be above the level of the heart so that gravity is more active in helping blood flow. While lying in bed, you can rest your feet on a pillow to promote blood circulation while you sleep.
  • Monitor your salt intake. When you consume a lot of salt, more fluid flows into your blood vessels, which can increase the pressure in your veins. Excess fluid penetrates the tissue and leads to edema. Drink plenty of water to help your body maintain proper fluid levels.
  • Keep an eye on your weight. The female body changes during pregnancy, the expectant mother increases in weight. The higher the body weight, the more pressure the weight puts on the veins of the lower extremities. The doctor will evaluate the gains and clarify weight norms.


The main concern for expectant mothers is whether varicose veins go away after pregnancy. Varicose veins usually go away 3 months after the baby is born. If the changes do not go away after 3 months, then you need to contact a phlebologist.

The manifestations of varicose veins that appeared for the first time while carrying a baby usually go away with no or little treatment. However, the more serious the changes, the more likely it will remain after birth and require treatment. Varicose veins in the vagina or vulva almost always resolve naturally after birth.


Varicose veins can lead to serious complications. The risk of developing dangerous conditions is increased: blood clots and venous ulcers.

There are two main types of blood clots. Superficial venous thrombi form in the saphenous veins. They don't usually go to the lungs. Dangerous deep vein thrombosis. The blood clots that form in it can break off and enter the pulmonary vessels. It is important to see a doctor immediately if:

  • Varicose veins become hard as a rope;
  • surrounding tissue is hot, painful, or swollen;
  • there are noticeable changes in vein color;
  • ulcers appear on the skin;
  • A painful, severe swelling occurs in one leg.

In these cases, the phlebologist will determine treatment tactics, including minimally invasive surgical methods, to eliminate inflammation and the risk of life-threatening complications.