The Role Menopause Plays In The Development Of Varicose Veins
Your body goes through a lot of changes as you approach menopause, and the appearance of varicose veins is one of them. Like with hot flashes, loss of bone density, and other unpleasant symptoms of menopause, it's only natural for you to have questions about the causes, treatment, and prevention of varicose and spider veins.
What occurs during menopause?
During a woman's childbearing years, the ovaries secrete estrogen and progesterone – commonly known as the female sex hormones. These hormones regulate the menstrual cycle and play a role in the female reproductive function. As a woman ages, the levels of these hormones begin to decrease, affecting both bone and cardiovascular health.
How does menopause cause varicose veins?
Hormones play a significant role in a woman's body, and not just in the female reproductive system. Decreased production of progesterone by the ovaries may weaken the valves in the veins of the legs, contributing to varicose veins. While both men and women can develop varicose veins, women are more susceptible than men to developing the bulging red, blue, or purple veins on the thighs or calves.
What can you do to prevent or minimize the development of varicose veins?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an option available for treating symptoms of menopause. Some combination hormone therapies contain both estrogen and progesterone, which may reduce the likelihood of developing varicose veins. The hormone progesterone is essential to vein health, particularly the veins in the legs, which have receptors for progesterone.
Since good circulation in the legs keeps blood flowing up toward the heart, preventing the pooling of blood in the veins – a factor that causes the veins to become varicose – regular exercise helps reduce the risk. Any exercise, including walking, running, yoga, or swimming, that stimulates circulation in the legs can help prevent varicose veins.
Either sitting or standing in one place for long periods of time can contribute to the development of varicose veins. Therefore, it's important to keep your legs moving. When you're at work, get up from your desk several times throughout the day and walk around the room. If you stand, frequently shift your weight between your legs.
Sitting with your legs bent or crossed makes your veins work even harder at pushing blood back up to the heart. That's why it's important to avoid a sedentary lifestyle – a common risk factor for developing varicose veins.
What other medical treatments are available?
Medical treatments for varicose and spider veins include sclerotherapy, laser therapy, and radiofrequency treatments – all of which have possible side effects.
Sclerotherapy is a common treatment that involves injecting a liquid chemical into the vein to seal it closed. This technique may require more than one treatment.
Laser treatments slowly fade spider veins and small varicose veins. Multiple treatments are required; therefore, it's important to be aware that the heat from the laser can be painful as it penetrates through the skin.
Sometimes doctors recommend a radiofrequency technique to treat deeper veins in the legs. A small catheter is placed into the vein through which a probe is inserted. Again, heat is used to seal off the damaged vein.
Surgery is an option for the treatment of large varicose veins. Although there are multiple surgical procedures for treating varicose veins, the purpose of each is to remove the affected vein.
For more information, contact institutions like Carolina Vein Institute.