Varicose veins during pregnancy

Pregnant woman

In many ways, pregnancy can be a period of phenomenal changes in the female body. When a woman is getting ready to have a baby soon, she may notice some unexpected side effects. This can include the growth of thicker hair, hardened and shiny nails, radiant skin and an increase in the size and fullness of the breasts.

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


The varicose veins of the lower extremities are persistent and irreversible varicose veins, resulting from gross changes in their walls, as well as insufficiency of the 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 prolonged stress on the lower extremities.

Statistics show that 40-65% of pregnant women develop varicose veins at least once in their lives. Most obese women suffer from varicose veins during pregnancy.

Although varicose veins are more common in the legs, they can occur elsewhere. Especially in late pregnancy, tortuous veins may appear in the buttocks, vagina or vulva. This happens when the lower abdomen and the uterus increase pressure on the veins in those areas.


As the term increases during pregnancy, several changes occur that create preconditions for varicose veins.

  1. First, as the uterus grows, it presses on the inferior vena cava - the largest vein in the human body. Excessive pressure creates a slowdown in blood flow, putting more pressure on the leg veins, which retain more blood. This leads to varicose veins in the legs during pregnancy.
  2. Second, during pregnancy, the female body produces more blood to support the baby's development, uninterrupted supply of oxygen and nutrients to the placenta and fetus. Due to the increased load, the veins must work harder to pump carbonated blood back to the heart from the extremities and the pelvis. This can lead to insufficient valves in the veins and an accumulation of blood in the legs, ankles, feet and other areas.
  3. Thirdly, the increase in the level of female sex hormones during pregnancy reduces the tone of smooth muscle in the walls of blood vessels (especially veins). It can also contribute to varicose veins in pregnant women.


Varicose veins are considered a disease with a hereditary predisposition. If the mother or grandmother suffered from varicose veins during pregnancy, the woman's risk of developing this 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 varicose veins in pregnant women on the legs is doubled.

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

Symptoms of varicose veins in pregnant women

Some women have slightly swollen, twisted and multicolored veins in their legs - just an aesthetic problem. In others, varicose veins during pregnancy cause unpleasant symptoms - 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, the venous lesion 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 monitor the signs of varicose veins:

  • swelling in the area of ​​the legs and ankles, feet;
  • spasms or pain in the thigh or leg;
  • fatigue, heaviness in the legs;
  • restlessness, especially at night, desire to move the legs constantly;
  • itchy, dry or pale skin on the legs, burning sensation;
  • Convoluted and protruding "stars", larger and convoluted veins;
  • wounds on the legs or ankles that take a long time to heal or do not heal;
  • pain in the legs that goes away when a woman walks or raises her legs.


Unfortunately, varicose veins tend to get worse as the pregnancy progresses. As the saphenous veins expand, twitch, swell and become more visible, women increasingly notice increased pain and other symptoms (swelling, skin changes, weight).


If a woman has any symptoms of varicose veins, it is imperative to consult a phlebologist. After conducting a detailed physical examination, carefully evaluating the condition of the feet, ankles, legs and thighs, the doctor will confirm the presence of varicose veins and rule out possible complications (using ultrasound and vascular Doppler measurements). As for varicose veins of the vulva, the obstetrician-gynecologist will notice during a routine examination.


In most cases, minimally invasive surgeries and procedures are not prescribed to treat varicose veins during pregnancy. This is associated with a high risk of complications and recurrences. In addition, the prescription of medications - phlebotonics, anti-inflammatories, antiplatelet agents - is very limited.

There are several guidelines that help to treat varicose veins safely and relatively effectively in pregnant women.

  • Dosed physical activity. Swimming, walking or other exercises for pregnant women with varicose veins, which involve the leg muscles, help to increase blood circulation in the veins of the extremities. The phlebologist together with the obstetrician-gynecologist will select an individual series of exercises for a specific period and severity of the pregnant woman's condition.
  • Shoes adjusted correctly. High heels and a totally flat sole interfere with the movement of the leg muscles, impairing the circulation of venous blood. You need to choose stable and comfortable shoes with a small heel (3-4 cm).
  • Compression T-Shirt. To support the veins during pregnancy, it is necessary to use a compression brace. The phlebologist will individually select the degree of compression and the type of product - knee length, socks or tights. You have to put them in the morning, without getting out of bed, and take them out at night, when the woman goes to bed.


There are several tips for the prevention of varicose veins in pregnant women, the observance of which helps to relieve the course of the disease and reduce discomfort:

  • Don't cross your legs. Sitting with one leg on the other blocks the flow of blood in the veins and can cause increased pressure.
  • Change position. If you have to sit or stand all day at work, change your posture as often as possible. This prevents blood from accumulating in the legs.
  • Sleep on your left side. As your belly gets bigger, lying on your back will become difficult. For 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 blood to flow from the lower extremities at night.
  • Lift your legs. Lift your legs more often throughout the day. Ideally, they should be above the level of the heart for gravity to help the blood flow more actively. While lying in bed, you can rest your feet on a pillow to help blood flow while you sleep.
  • Watch your salt intake. When you take in too much salt, more fluid flows into your blood vessels, which can increase pressure in your veins. Excess liquid penetrates the tissues and leads to edema. Drink plenty of water to help your body maintain the proper fluid balance.
  • Track your weight. The female body changes during pregnancy, the future mom is gaining weight. The greater the body weight, the greater the pressure exerted by the weight in the veins of the lower extremities. The doctor will evaluate the gains and clarify the weight rules.


The most important concern for pregnant women is whether varicose veins will disappear after pregnancy. Varicose veins usually disappear 3 months after the baby is born. If the changes do not go away after 3 months, you need to contact a phlebologist.

The manifestations of varicose veins that appear for the first time during childbirth, usually disappear with little or no treatment. However, the more severe the changes, the more likely they are to remain after delivery and require treatment. Varicose veins in the vagina or vulva almost always disappear naturally after delivery.


Varicose veins can cause serious complications. The risk of developing dangerous conditions increases: blood clots and venous ulcers.

There are two main types of blood clots. Superficial venous thrombi are formed in the saphenous veins. They do not usually migrate to the lungs. Dangerous deep vein thrombosis. Blood clots formed in them can come off and enter the pulmonary vessels. It is important to see a doctor immediately if:

  • varicose veins are hard, like a rope;
  • the surrounding tissue is hot, painful or swollen;
  • there are noticeable changes in the color of the veins;
  • ulcers appear on the skin;
  • an intense and painful swelling appears in one leg.

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