There are many different gender-specific health issues between men and women and varicose veins certainly qualify. While both genders can develop these bulging veins, women are twice as likely as men to have varicose veins for several reasons, and we explore them here.
At Central Coast Vein & Vascular, board-certified interventional radiologist Dr. Kenneth Spearman and our team of vascular experts believe in partnering with patients for great health. As part of our efforts, we understand that patient education is key, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to take a closer look at why women are more susceptible to varicose veins.
Varicose veins 101
Before we get into why women are more vulnerable to varicose veins, let’s take a look at how these veins develop in the first place.
In most cases, varicose veins develop in your legs where your blood has to fight both distance and gravity to circulate back up to your heart. To help keep your blood flowing in the right direction, the veins in your legs are equipped with tiny valves that close once blood flows through, preventing it from spilling backward.
If these valves weaken or fail — a condition called venous insufficiency — blood begins to pool, which engorges and twists the vein, and the added pressure sends it toward the surface of your skin.
In most cases, varicose veins aren’t medically serious, but they can lead to more serious venous disease and should not be taken lightly. Symptoms include:
- Aching or cramping in your legs
- A feeling of heaviness in your legs
- Skin discoloration or rashes
- Unsightly bulging veins
- Venous ulceration, which may occur in up to 5% of those with varicose veins
Though varicose veins can occur in both genders, women outpace men two to one. The primary reasons for this are twofold:
When you’re pregnant, there’s more blood flowing through your body as you nurture a new life, which places added pressure on your veins. In some cases, these engorged veins disappear a few months after you give birth, but, for many women, the veins serve as a lasting reminder.
Your risk for varicose veins also increases with each pregnancy and the veins are less likely to go away on their own.
If you’re taking hormonal medications for birth control or menopause, the added estrogen can weaken the valves in your blood vessels, making you more susceptible to varicose veins.
Treating varicose veins
The good news when it comes to varicose veins, for both genders, is that we offer several state-of-the-art, minimally-invasive solutions, including:
- Endovenous laser ablation
- Radiofrequency ablation
Each of these treatments effectively closes off varicose veins, rerouting blood flow to healthier vessels and creating a smoother appearance. The procedures are conveniently performed in our offices on an outpatient basis and there’s no downtime afterward.
To help you determine which option is best for your varicose veins, please contact our office in Arroyo Grande, California, to set up a consultation.