Vulvar Varicosities Treatment: Tips and Treatment Options
Pregnancy comes alongside many challenges, both expected and unexpected. Physical changes in your body can sometimes lead to unwanted symptoms that may cause pain and discomfort.
Vulvar varicosity is a rare issue, but it can occur in any pregnancy. Around 4% of women experience vulvar varicosities during their pregnancy, and the effects are sometimes permanent.
Let’s discuss the basics of vulvar varicosity and when to seek vulvar varicosities treatment. You’ll also learn the most effective tips and tricks to relieve pelvic discomfort resulting from the condition.
What Is Vulvar Varicosity?
Vulvar varicosity involves varicose veins on the vulva or around that general area. Most women who experience vulvar varicosity first see it during pregnancy. The effects are often permanent without treatment.
Varicose veins occur when blood has difficulty flowing in the correct direction. Pressure from conditions such as pregnancy or obesity puts pressure on veins around the pelvic area, causing blood to pool and flow backward. This can lead to the formation of varicose veins in the vulva.
Women with varicose veins in areas such as the calves, ankles, and feet are more likely to also see varicose veins around the vulva during pregnancy. Sometimes, veins remain small enough to go unnoticed during a doctor’s visit. For some women, though, varicose veins may be noticeably swollen.
In many cases, vulvar varicosity is not painful. Plenty of women show no symptoms whatsoever. For some people, veins can grow large enough to cause discomfort. If varicose veins are giving you pain, it may be time to consider opting for vulvar varicosities treatment.
Signs & Symptoms
The most obvious symptom of vulvar varicosities is often visual. Varicose veins appear swollen and twisted, with deep blue spots along the vulva and surrounding areas.
In some cases, you may also experience soreness or tenderness in the area. Swollen veins are often painful to the touch or when engaging in physical activity. There is sometimes additional swelling and sensitivity around the genital area, which can interfere with sexual function.
When varicose veins travel back to the perineum, it may cause additional pain around the vulvar area. Vulvar varicosity in the perineal region may also increase your risk of developing hemorrhoids, especially during pregnancy.
Many cases of vulvar varicosity don’t require treatment. For many women, visible veins may disappear in the months following pregnancy. Even if they don’t, vulvar varicosities don’t often cause discomfort.
The only time medical intervention is necessary is if vulvar varicosities are causing significant pain or interfering with day-to-day life. There are two common procedures doctors may recommend as vulvar varicosities treatments.
This minimally invasive procedure works by blocking blood flow to varicose veins in the vulva. Under localized anesthesia, a doctor will use a catheter to close off damaged veins. Without a steady blood supply, veins will shrink and ease pressure on the area.
Sclerotherapy works similarly to vein embolization, combatting varicose veins by shrinking them. Instead of using a catheter, though, doctors inject a chemical solution. It coagulates blood and stops flow through the damaged vein.
Tips To Relieve Vulvar Varicosities Pain
If you’re experiencing pain due to vulvar varicosities, there are several home remedies you can try to relieve discomfort.
Try a Support Belt
Specialized support garments can help brace your pelvic area, improving blood flow. Wearing one prevents blood from pooling or back flowing, reducing the risk of varicose vein formation.
Use a Cold Compress
Reducing inflammation can help ease symptoms of varicose veins as well as lower pain levels. Using a cold compress can help alleviate discomfort around the vulva and reduce the severity of varicose veins.
Elevate the Area
Keeping your pelvis elevated, even if only for a short period each day, helps reduce your risk of vulvar varicosity. You can lie down with a wedge or pillow to lift your hips, or you can practice pelvic floor exercises that elevate the area.
Perform Pelvic Floor Exercises
Other pelvic floor exercises can also help to reduce pain from vulvar varicosities. Anything that gets the blood flowing below the hips will improve circulation and relieve pressure around the vulva.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Your diet is an important part of your cardiovascular health. Eating unhealthy foods may raise blood pressure and cholesterol, increasing your risk of developing varicose veins. It’s best to eat plenty of hydrating fruits and vegetables, healthy lean meats, and whole grains. You should also avoid eating too much sodium, as high levels can affect blood pressure.
Any additional pressure on your vulvar area can worsen local varicosities. It’s important not to strain yourself if you notice symptoms. Be careful when walking or squatting, and try to stay relaxed during bowel movements.
Avoiding Vulvar Varicosities During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is the most common time for vulvar varicosities to appear. Fortunately, there are steps that women can take to reduce their risk of forming vulvar varicosities that will last beyond the postpartum period.
Keeping the blood flowing is the best way to prevent varicose veins. During pregnancy, you should avoid sitting or standing too long in one position, as this can place excessive pressure on veins around the pelvis. Try to change positions often and engage in regular, gentle exercise.
Reducing inflammation around the pelvis can keep budding varicose veins from growing worse. In addition to regular exercise, you can keep inflammation down by using cold compresses or elevating affected areas.
Proper hydration is key to a healthy circulatory system. Without enough water each day, you increase your risk of developing issues such as vulvar varicosities. According to health experts, women should aim to drink at least 11.5 cups, or 2.7 liters, of water per day.
The physicians at the Center for Vascular Medicine recommend a procedure after all conservative measures have been exhausted by the patient.
The benefits are the procedure are:
- No hospital stays for the patient and he/she usually can go home the same day.
- Small incisions and less blood loss.
- Less pain and no open surgeries.
- Minimal scarring and lower rates of complication.
- Quick recover time.
- Reduced blood loss.
A venogram is an outpatient procedure performed under light anesthesia to capture an image of the blood vessels. Because the veins are not normally visible by x-ray, a special dye and camera are used to highlight the vessel
The physician will insert a catheter in the upper thigh and guide it through the vessel all the way to the area of interest. Once in position, a special dye is injected. As the dye passes through the vein, an x-ray is taken to track the flow of blood.
If the patient has an allergy to our dye or has poor kidney function, we can utilize carbon dioxide instead.
Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)
IVUS is considered the “gold standard” in confirming the presence of disease in the vasculature.
A small ultrasound device is attached to a catheter and guided through the femoral vein (in the groin area) to the area(s) of concern.
Outcomes of treatment allow patients to regain quality of life and may prevent the need for more invasive surgical treatment such as hysterectomy. Expectations of treatment are to relieve chronic pelvic pain especially when it is related to certain activities of daily living. The goal is to also relieve symptoms of pain during/after sexual activity(dyspareunia), and painful menstrual cycles(dysmenorrhea), and reduce prominent varicose veins or vulvar varicosities in the vaginal and genital region(s).
Embolization is one option for treatment of symptomatic Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. It is a minimally invasive procedure to close the damaged pelvic veins and restore healthy blood flow.
Venoplasty refers to a technique used to open blocked veins by inflation of a balloon catheter. This technique is typically used in conjunction with stenting although not always. The balloon is removed after it is used.
Iliac Vein Stenting
A stent is used to open a vessel and improve blood flow. The vascular specialist will insert a cylindrical metal wire mesh tube into the vein in order to keep the blood flow channel open.
If you’re showing common signs of varicose veins around the vulva, you may want to consider vulvar varicosities treatment. There are plenty of home remedies that you can try to relieve pain, as well as medical options for advanced cases.
Schedule a consultation or a telehealth consultation to find out if we can help with your condition.