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    Vulvar Varicosities: Everything You Need to Know

    Published 03 October 2019
    Fact Checked
    Tanya Tantry, MD
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Varicose veins that appear on the vulva, or vulvar varicosities, aren’t uncommon among moms-to-be. They don’t always lead to any symptoms and usually disappear on their own about a month after delivery. Here’s everything you need to know about vulvar varicosities, from common causes to effective treatment options. 

    What are vulvar varicosities?

    Vulvar varicosities are varicose veins (enlarged, dilated, and twisted veins) that appear on your vulva. They can show up on the labia minora and majora and the skin folds of your vulva.

    Many women develop vulvar varicosities during pregnancy, especially during second pregnancies. According to different studies, about 10 to 22 percent of pregnant women develop vulvar varicosities. The number might be even higher, since many women can’t feel or see the enlarged veins and receive no diagnosis. Many others decide not to get medical help.

    Symptoms of vulvar varicosities

    You may develop vulvar varicosities without knowing about the condition, since you may find it difficult to see your vulva, particularly during pregnancy.

    Vulvar varicosities typically appear as soft, purple or blue-colored veins that protrude out from the skin or appear twisted.

    Vulvar varicosities can cause the following symptoms:

    Vulvar varicosities may appear alone or in association with varicose veins in the lower extremities or pelvic region.

    Causes of vulvar varicosities

    Vulvar varicosities tend to occur most commonly during pregnancy because of increased blood volume in the pelvic region and decreased blood flow from the lower body to the heart. Moreover, the levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen are constantly changing at this time. This can lead to the walls of your veins becoming more relaxed, causing them to get larger. This can cause your blood to pool in the veins in your lower legs, pelvis, and vulva, resulting in varicosities.

    Vulvar varicosities tend to occur most commonly during pregnancy because of increased blood volume in the pelvic region and decreased blood flow from the lower body to the heart.

    Having varicose veins in the pelvic region also raises your likelihood of developing vulvar varicosities. This can cause pain in your pelvis and the surrounding region (upper thighs and lower back). Aging also makes you more prone to developing varicose veins. As you get older, your veins lose their functional and structural efficiency, leading to decreased blood circulation. Low blood pressure, obesity, and a family history of varicose veins may all increase the risk of developing varicosities.

    Ways to diagnose vulvar varicosities

    Your physician can diagnose the condition by doing a physical exam. They may ask about your symptoms and examine any swelling. In certain cases, they may do an ultrasound to diagnose vulvar varicosities and assess their severity.

    They may consider other tests such as a CT scan, venography, MRI, or laparoscopy if they suspect an underlying condition such as pelvic congestion syndrome. Recent research shows that the “gold standard” test is a transvaginal duplex ultrasound.

    Treating vulvar varicosities

    Treating vulvar varicosities during pregnancy is all about managing symptoms. You might want to consult a vascular specialist to get recommendations about how to deal with this condition. You can get relief from vulvar varicosities by following these steps:

    • Apply cold compresses or ice to the vulvar area.
    • Wear a vulvar varicosity support garment. Choose one that is specifically designed to provide relief from vulvar varicosities. It is also important to wear lower-limb compression stockings.
    • Change your position regularly, as this helps relieve pressure on your body. You should also avoid sitting or standing for a long time.
    • Elevate your legs. This helps promote circulation. You can also prop up your hips while lying down.
    Elevating your legs can get relief from vulvar varicosities

    If you have more severe symptoms or additional conditions, your physician or vascular specialist may also recommend the following:

    • To help with itchiness, take a bath using a foaming solution without soap and apply only a small amount on your vulva. As advised by your doctor, a topical corticosteroid can also help ease itching.
    • If you have a blood clot in the vulvar varicosity, they may prescribe medication to prevent further blood clots and b