Varicose Veins During A Pregnancy

It is not at all uncommon for women to develop varicose and spider veins while pregnant. There are certain well understood reasons for this and we will explain a few basic principles here.

Genetics And Varicose Veins

Dr. Lee G. Schulman M.D. of the Schulman Vein And Laser Centers in Long Island and New York City likes to tell patients “You get the genes from your parents and your own pregnancies often cause varicose leg veins to develop. It’s the ideal family guilt disease- you get to blame everybody”. In many respects this is correct, as genetics often predispose a person (here a woman) to developing vein problems.

Previous Pregnancy Varicose Veins

Of course if a woman has varicose veins before becoming pregnant they will almost certainly worsen as the pregnancy progresses. While the veins may have appeared in previous pregnancies and then improved after delivery, there is an increased tendency for them to return and often even more severely then in earlier pregnancies. With each pregnancy a woman is obviously older and the veins have often been ‘challenged’ by all the factors leading to the development of leg varicose veins.

Blood Volume

During a pregnancy there is also an increased volume of blood in the body of the expectant mother. This is because there is now another growing tissue, the uterus, and the baby that both need blood to develop. The blood volume increase is so large in fact that its almost 50% of the baseline, non-pregnant amount of about one and a half gallons. This volume of blood continues to increase as the pregnancy advances and the baby and uterus enlarge.

Hormones And Pregnancy

There are also hormonal changes during pregnancy that cause the veins to dilate more and have less ability to constrict. The hormone progesterone increases throughout a pregnancy. It is first produced by ovaries and then later on by the uterus itself. The “loosening” or laxity it produces allows the ligaments of the pelvis to more easily stretch to help in the delivery of a baby but it also predisposes to the formation of varicose veins.

Pressure During Pregnancy

Even in the non pregnant state blood in the legs has to travel upwards against gravity, the bodies weight and distances as long as three or four feet to reach the heart. As both the baby and uterus enlarge, they add both weight and increasing compression on the veins of the legs and pelvis. The effect of this is to further inhibit venous bloods return to the heart and the development of more varicose veins.

Women who are concerned about their veins and pregnancy are encouraged to seek the advice of medical experts in vein therapy. Vein specialists are known as Phlebologists and the more educated ones are board certified and best able to answer your questions. Should you desire to speak to vein specialists in Long Island or New York City feel free to contact Dr. Martin L. Schulman M.D. or Dr. Lee G. Schulman M.D.