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Why are women more likely to develop varicose veins?

It seems to me that women are more likely to develop varicose veins. I have varicose veins, but my husband doesn't, and I don't really notice them on men as much. Why are women more likely to develop varicose veins? Are there special measures women can take to not develop varicose veins?

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Doctors Answers (9)

The main reason women are more likely to get varicose veins is because of pregnancy. During pregnancy your body will have an extra two liters of blood traveling through your venous system. This will lead to more vein problems in people that are genetically prone to vein disease. If you wear compression hose during pregnancy it can lessen the chance of getting varicose veins.

For the most part, varicose veins are hereditary. In females, there is also a hormonal component with pregnancies. Varicose veins are, however, very common in males. Varicose veins cannot be prevented completely. Walking is the best thing you can do for your legs, and wearing compression socks can help the symptoms from the varicose veins and improve the blood flow.

Hormones, especially progesterone, play a role in the development of varicose veins and pregnancy also is a big factor in developing varicose veins. Men don't have or get either, so they are less likely to develop varicose veins, but they still get them quite frequently.

Multiple factors cause women to have a 4 times greater incidence of varicose veins than in men. Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancies, menopause and taking estrogen and progesterone in birth control pills or hormonal treatments can all contribute to the development of varicose veins. Heredity is a major factor, with half of the patients with varicose veins also having a family member with varicose veins. Prolonged sitting or standing is common in occupations such as teaching, nursing and accounting and can contribute to venous congestion and varicose veins. Increasing age is also a contributing factor in the relaxation and decline of connective tissues which contributes to weakening of the valves in the veins and ultimately increasing venous congestion, reflux and varicose veins. Measures that can be taken to reduce or minimize the occurrence of varicose veins include keeping active with walking or aerobic activities, wearing compression hose during pregnancies and avoiding wearing high heel shoes.

Women have a slightly higher incidence of venous insufficiency and varicose veins than men. Also, women get pregnant which can make the veins worse with each pregnancy. Men often have hair on their legs that can make the veins less visible, as well.

Women have a much higher incidence of varicose veins than men due to hormonal factors and pregnancy. Cyclical female hormones have a deleterious stressful effect on the body's veins. Furthermore, the hormone balance during pregnancy, which serves to support the fetus and placenta, places even more stress on leg veins, due to increased blood volume and pressure exerted by the growing baby. I am afraid there is nothing that can be done to prevent varicose veins if you inherited this problem, as nearly 50 percent of women have. However, if you regularly wear properly fitted 20-30 mm compression hosiery, you may slow down the otherwise inevitable progression of your condition until the day genetic engineers correct the defect.

Choose your parents wisely! This is an inherited problem, so take a look at your parents legs/grandparents, etc. Women are more affected due to hormonal changes throughout life, especially pregnancy. Veins dilate, and if you have the inherited trait, after several pregnancies the veins do not return to their pre-pregnancy state. Men typically develop varicose veins with a family history at a rate of about 20-30 percent. Oftentimes, they don't seek treatment unless their wife/significant other is persuasive. Wearing a good quality, measured and fitted compression hose (these are not your grandmother's stockings) if standing, sitting for prolonged periods and during pregnancy can help slow down the process, but cannot prevent it. Maintaining a healthy weight, diet and exercise, hydration and not smoking are also part of your general health.

A substantial component of risk is the hormone changes of pregnancy; i.e., progesterone.

Well, women are affected more than men. Hormones and pregnancy greatly contribute to this. Hormones dilate the veins during menstruation and during pregnancy.

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