Varicose veins? We agree, it's not a term that makes you want to know more. However, given that vulvar varicose veins (also known as pelvic, vaginal or perineal varicose veins) are quite common in pregnant women, we felt it was important to broach the subject! Diagnosis, symptoms, causes, treatment... Elia tells you all about it!
What is a vulvar varicose vein?
Vulvar varicose veins are one of the inconveniences that pregnant women may experience during pregnancy. pregnancy. Although they generally disappear after childbirth or when breastfeeding stops, it is sometimes necessary to undergo treatment to cure them! In concrete terms, these are varicose veins in the vulva, caused by venous insufficiency, as with "classic" varicose veins in the legs. The area may be painful and swollen, due to dilation of the blood vessels. However, only 10% of pregnant women suffer from varicose veins, and the majority of these are primiparous women in their first pregnancy.
How to recognize vulvar or perineal varicose veins?
Pelvic varicose veins are the term used to encompass varicose veins on the vulva and perineum.
Vulvar varicose veins are easier to detect: the labia are swollen, even painful, with bluish or purplish features that disappear with finger pressure.
Varicose veins of the perineum are more difficult to recognize, as they manifest themselves mainly as pain in the lower abdomen, and can be confused with other pregnancy symptoms.
What are the symptoms of vulvar varicose veins during pregnancy?
Far from having disabling consequences, they are, for the most part, asymptomatic. However, some may experience swelling of the lips, or even pain, itching or discomfort when walking. Sexual intercourse may also be more painful.
In what month of pregnancy do vulvar varicose veins appear?
Women who already have a history of venous insufficiency could potentially be prone to these inconveniences from the start of pregnancy, but in general, they tend to appear at the end of pregnancy or from the second trimester onwards.
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins, whether on the vulva or the legs, are caused by venous insufficiency. In the case of vulvar or vaginal varicose veins , this venous insufficiency results from hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy.
Hormones (estrogen and progesterone) tend to cause veins to dilate, slowing blood flow and leading to venous insufficiency. The veins on the pubic area are sensitive to hormonal changes. In addition, the increasing weight of the baby during pregnancy puts pressure on the pelvic area .
Making a diagnosis
Since varicose veins are a relatively benign and sometimes asymptomatic condition, their diagnosis depends primarily on clinical observation of the area by a healthcare professional (midwife or gynecologist). Varicose veins can be recognized by purplish or bluish dilations, which disappear under pressure.
A person suffering from varicose veins in the vulva is often also affected by varicose veins in the legs. The doctor performing the lexamination will therefore need to check whether the patient has varicose veins in the lower limbs, and whether she has a history of thrombosis or venous insufficiency.
If necessary, a phlebologist can be consulted lto carry out an echo-Doppler test, and benefit from this dual viewpoint to confirm the diagnosis.
How are varicose veins treated during pregnancy?
Varicose veins often disappear spontaneously. If they don't, pelvic varicose vein treatment should be considered, with the varicose veins plugged to prevent venous return to the vulvar veins. This is known as varicose vein embolization.
If malformations appear post-partum, the doctor may consider vein surgery .
How can you prevent lthe appearance of vulvar varicose veins?
They can be avoided by following these tips:
- Do not hesitate to wear compression stockings, tights or socks, which can be prescribed in order to benefit from Social Security coverage;
- Avoid crossing your legs or staying in the same position for too long (sitting for several hours, or standing in a static position);
- Wear loose-fitting clothing, especially around the crotch, pelvis and thighs;
- Drainage massages: starting at the feet and working up to the top of the legs (lymphatic massages are ideal in this case!);
- Continue to practice physical activity (gentle sports such as yoga, daily walking, cycling, pilates, etc.);
- Place wedges under both feet at the end of the bed to elevate the legs during sleep;
- Apply cold : for example, use a cotton cloth placed in the freezer as a cold "patch" to relieve the burn and reduce the size of the vein;
- Avoid hot showers and baths.
Do vulvar varicose veins complicate lchildbirth?
Generally speaking, they do not complicate ldelivery, and the woman can give birth vaginally without risk to her health. The only exception is if they are too painful or large, in which case the gynecologist may consider a cesarean section to avoid the risk of varicose hemorrhage.
Varicose veins FAQ
Do vulvar and pelvic varicose veins occur at the same time?
Pelvic varicose veins is the term for both vulvar and perineal varicose veins. In general, in the case of varicose veins in the perineum, the risk of contracting vulvar varicose veins will be high.
How do I remove vulvar varicose veins?
In most cases, they disappear spontaneously after pregnancy. Prevention remains the best way to avoid being affected by vulvar varicose veins during pregnancy! If, however, the varicose veins don't go away, you should consider embolization of the varicose veins near the pelvis, to prevent blood flowing back into the veins of the vulva.