Varicose veins, typically associated with legs, can surprisingly develop around the vaginal opening or vulva. These veins, linked to inefficient blood circulation, become increasingly prominent due to several factors, with pregnancy being the prime culprit.
Root Causes of Vulvar Varicose Veins
Pregnancy is the leading cause of vulvar varicose veins, but other influential factors contribute significantly.
Vaginal or vulvar veins can emerge as an undesired side effect of pregnancy. The blood supply and pressure around the genitalia escalate due to the foetus’s growth. Veins strive against gravitational force to pump blood back to the heart. Pregnancy amplifies this struggle, potentially leading to valve damage, backward blood flow, and pooling, causing varicose veins.
However, knowing that these varicosities generally don’t hinder childbirth is reassuring. Although these veins may recede post-pregnancy, some might require medical intervention. Recurring pregnancies can exacerbate the condition.
2. Hormonal Variations
Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy can dilate veins and increase pressure on the inferior vena cava, predisposing individuals to varicose veins.
3. Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
This condition is characterised by varicose veins emerging in the ovaries due to inadequate blood flow. Such dysfunctional valves can lead to engorged veins, sometimes extending to the vulva and inner thighs. Pelvic Congestion Syndrome predominantly affects childbearing women, with risks escalating after natural childbirth.
Associated risks include:
- Leg varicose veins
- Uterine misalignment
- Family history of PCS
4. Genetic Factors
A family lineage of varicose veins can heighten one’s vulnerability, affecting any body part, including the genital region.
Although childbearing women are at the forefront of risk, the ageing process can deteriorate vein elasticity, fostering varicose veins.
6. Prolonged Standing
Excessive standing can impede optimal blood circulation, increasing the odds of varicose vein development.
In rare instances, pelvic tumours can obstruct blood drainage, hinting at vaginal veins.
Recognising and Diagnosing Vulvar Varicose Veins
Varicose veins in the vaginal or vulvar region can induce discomfort and swelling. Their presence is often ascertainable through a physical examination. However, the absence of symptoms can obscure their detection. Notably, they’re more discernible when standing or squatting.
Symptoms to monitor include:
- Genital pain or pressure
- Heaviness sensation
- Itchiness or burning
- Dyspareunia or intercourse discomfort
Transvaginal ultrasound aids in diagnosing affected veins, providing a detailed insight into vein health.
Treating Vulvar Varicose Veins
Several treatments target vulvar varicose veins, ranging from non-invasive to minimally invasive procedures.
This prevalent treatment involves injecting a sclerosant solution into veins, leading to their eventual absorption. Foam sclerotherapy caters to larger veins.
2. Laser Treatment
Laser therapy utilises optic lasers to seal affected veins, ensuring their absorption by the body.
3. Cryoacrylate Glue Treatment
Cyanoacrylate is an innovative technique using a glue-like substance to seal veins, diverting blood to healthier veins.
4. Thermal Ablation Treatment
Radio-frequency ablation collapses the affected vein using localized heat.
Preventive Measures for Vulvar Veins
While preventing vulvar veins is challenging, certain practices can mitigate their development:
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing
- Wear comfortable footwear
- Stay hydrated
- Regular exercise
- Elevate legs when sitting
- Use compression stockings
Awareness of genital changes is crucial. Seek consultation promptly if you suspect any anomalies.
For expert vulvar varicose vein treatment, consult Mr Dimitri across NHS and Healthcare Commission-approved facilities in Cheshire, Chester and North Wales.
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