How Does Menstruation Affect Varicose Veins?

How Does Menstruation Affect Varicose Veins?

If you’re a woman, every month from your early teens to your early 50s, your ovaries release an egg ready to be fertilized. If it’s not fertilized, you experience menstrual bleeding — a sloughing off of the uterine tissue that’s not needed at that time. Along with the bleeding, you may experience several other symptoms and even conditions such as varicose veins.

At Dallas Vein Institute and Texas Vascular Institute, now with locations in Dallas and Hurst, Texas, interventional radiologist Dr. Dev Batra sees a lot of cases of varicose veins. However, most women aren’t aware that menstruation is a potential cause. That’s why he’s put together this guide on the relationship between the two.

What is a varicose vein?

Varicose veins are damaged veins caused by the failure of the internal valves that prevent blood from flowing back into the lower extremities. When the valves become damaged, often from high blood pressure, blood flow in the area becomes sluggish, and the blood pools around the damaged valve, causing the vein to engorge. The result is a colored, ropy protrusion, usually found on the back of the legs.

In addition, veins in the lower abdomen may turn varicose. Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS) — enlarged veins in the pelvic region — also results from damaged valves that affect blood flow. Symptoms of PCS include pelvic pain, heavy or prolonged periods, pain after sex, and varicose veins. Varicose veins are therefore both a cause and an effect of PCS.

You have a higher chance of having PCS if your varicose veins appear high up in the thighs, groin, and vulvar region. Your risk is also higher if you’ve given birth, since pelvic veins stretch during pregnancy. And it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to develop varicose veins, as the additional weight they carry puts extra pressure on the veins in the lower extremities.

How does menstruation affect varicose veins?

Women experience differences in blood flow at different reproductive stages of their lives. In fact, when women menstruate blood flow to peripheral areas decreases. With poor circulation, blood can pool around veins’ valves, damaging them and leading to varicose veins.

In addition, the pressure of the increased blood flow during menstruation, especially if you have heavy periods, may contribute to PCS and valve damage in the abdomen over time, leading to varicose veins.

To learn more about menstruation’s effects on varicose veins, or to schedule a vein screening or treatment with Dr. Batra, give Dallas Vein Institute and Texas Vascular Institute a call at either location or book online with us today.

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