Vulvar varicosities during pregnancy? I know how you feel!
Vulvar varicosities in pregnancy. They look horrible, they feel horrible, and they are something that most women are very hesitant and uncomfortable talking about. Having experienced vulvar varicosities during my third and fourth pregnancy, I can sympathise with all those women who discover this new pregnancy symptom and wonder to themselves “What NEXT!!” The good news is that there are some ways to help relieve the symptoms and discomforts of vulvar varicosities, and having tried many of these myself can attest to their effectiveness. I will discuss some of these below, but first, here is a little more information explaining what vulvar varicosities are and some of the symptoms you may be experiencing.
Vulvar Varicosities – what are they?
Vulvar varicosities are essentially varicose veins that occur in the vulvar area (gross I know!) – hence why many women don’t like to discuss the issue. Varicose veins are veins that swell and then tend to bulge near the surface of the skin. If you develop vulvar varicosities, it is very likely that you also have varicose veins in one or both of your legs as well. The enlarged veins are generally soft and may be a bluish colour. The amount of swelling associated with them may only be a little, or it may be a real lot. Vulvar varicosities tend to affect around 10% of pregnant women and are more common with successive pregnancies. As mentioned, it wasn’t until baby number three that I first started having issues. Varicose veins are usually hereditary and can also worsen as you age. It can seem embarrassing talking about it to your midwife, but since all other sense of modesty disappears during the pregnancy and labour period, it is best to talk about and learn more about the issue. Vulvar varicosities generally don’t cause any issues during labour or pushing, however, discuss your particular symptoms with your midwife or doctor so that they can explain any potential risks etc, or put your mind at ease. You will also be glad to know that in most instances, varicose veins and in turn vulvar varicosities will disappear after the birth of your baby.
What causes Vulvar Varicosities during pregnancy?
- The development of vulvar varicosities during your pregnancy, can be attributed primarily to the following:
- The extra weight your growing uterus places on the pelvic area and associated veins.
- The increased levels of progesterone and oestrogen circulating throughout your body. These hormones cause the vein walls to relax which leads to them bulging.
- If you have had an extended amount of time pushing during labour in one of your previous pregnancies, then you may be more susceptible to developing vulvar varicosities in subsequent pregnancies.
Vulvar Varicosities symptoms
The symptoms can be very broad and vulvar varicosities will likely affect each woman differently. Some women may not have severe pain, but do have a heavy, bulging feeling, and the sensation that everything may ‘fall out’. Other women have experienced a lot of pain and have found the condition almost unbearable. Some of the main symptoms of vulvar varicosities include:
- Various levels of pain
- Itching or a burning sensation
- General discomfort or heaviness in the vulvar/groin area
- Dull deep aching or throbbing
- Swollen or engorged areas within the vulvar region
Some natural ways to help relieve Vulvar Varicosities
While many women may need a support garment of some description to help ease the symptoms of their vulvar varicose veins, there are some practical day-to-day things you can do to help ease your discomfort.
- Try to increase your circulation by taking a brisk walk or exercising daily
- If you are standing or sitting a lot during the day, make sure you set aside times to move around into different positions to encourage blood flow
- Elevate your feet and legs wherever possible. If sitting at a desk, put your feet on a stool. If you have access to a recliner lounge – use it. Or if possible, lay down with your legs elevated on a pillow at different times throughout the day.
- Don’t cross your legs or ankles, since this can reduce blood flow and circulation
- If possible, try to remain within your recommended weight range
Support products that help relieve Vulvar Varicosities
The two main types of support products that are most effective in reducing the effects of varicose veins and vulvar varicosities are:
- Maternity compression hosiery. These offer graduated compression, meaning that there is greater pressure applied at the ankle, and it gradually decreases as the hosiery moves up your leg. This compression helps to better circulate your blood up your legs and into your groin region. If you are suffering with veins in your thighs or vulvar area, you are best to stick with full stockings rather than knee or thigh highs.
- Groin support belts. These include the V2 Supporter and the Baby Belly groin support belt. They certainly aren’t the best fashion statement, however, they will provide support to your swollen vulvar area, helping relieve the heaviness and the feeling that everything is going to fall out. The pressure they apply (and which you can adjust) can also help relieve some of the pain or aching you may be experiencing.
If you would like us to recommend a product for your particular needs, or would like sizing help, then please do not hesitate to contact us.