For as many as 70% of expectant mothers, varicose veins can come as a somewhat frightening surprise. After all, the last thing you want to see during your pregnancy are unexpected (and unwanted) surprises on your body! If you haven’t already experienced it, pregnancy causes many changes in your body. And some of these changes can cause varicose veins. Varicose veins around the legs, breasts, rectum, and vulva are a very common side effect of pregnancy
Varicose veins are bulging, twisted veins that usually appear on your legs. They are generally blue or purple and you can feel them right under the surface of the skin. Veins do not have strong muscles to move blood forward, and they rely on one-way valves and leg muscles to help move blood back to the heart. When the valves are incompetent, blood can build up in the leg veins. This increased pressure forces the walls of the veins to bulge.
- Progesterone – This hormone is increased during pregnancy. It is essential for a healthy pregnancy, but it also causes the veins to relax. Blood does not move as easily through these relaxed veins. As blood builds up, the pressure within the vein increases and the vein enlarges.
- Increased blood– The volume of blood in a pregnant woman’s body increases during pregnancy. More blood overall means there is more blood within the veins, and this increases the strain on the vein valves and walls.
- Pressure from the uterus– The growing fetus within the uterus pushes against the organs and blood vessels in the abdomen. Blood moves from the leg veins to veins in the pelvis, or lower abdomen, before moving back to the heart. The pressure placed on these pelvic veins by the uterus prevents blood from flowing out of the legs.
This effect is particularly pronounced near your lower body, as your legs are responsible for working against gravity to deliver the extra blood to your heart. This blood also moves more slowly than normal, increasing the pressure placed on the veins and causing them to bulge.
Contact our office at 615.455.3000 to begin your journey to healthier, pain free legs.