Why do they occur?
Varicose veins can develop in your vulva during pregnancy due to normal changes that occur to your body at this time, such as:
- increased blood volume
- hormonal softening of the walls of your veins
- increasing pressure on the large veins in the abdomen and pelvis as your baby grows.
What should I do?
Mater physiotherapists suggest you try these hints early and consistently—they should help to minimise problems now and in future pregnancies
- Avoid standing still for any length of time—move, walk, change positions.
- Strictly avoid any squatting (kneel or sit on a stool). This is very important.
- Avoid constipation (this increases the strain pressure on your veins). Make sure your bowel motions are soft and easy to pass and sit in the emptying position using hand support under your perineum.
- maintain curve in lower back
- lean forward from the hips
- allow abdomen to relax forward
- always keep breathing
- no straining
- a small footstool may enhance position.
- Avoid any other activities that cause straining such as lifting, pushing, pulling, sneezing or coughing. When you cannot avoid any of these activities, use your hands or a rolled towel to help support your perineum.
- Lie down to rest–often. Sitting does not relieve the pressure on this area. Lying on your side is best.
- Practise your pelvic floor exercises regularly to make sure your muscles are strong.
Can I use support garments?
Mater physiotherapists recommend using support garments to assist in reducing the symptoms of vulval varicosities. Many women also find that full leg support stockings can some provide relief. You will get the best results if you apply garments and support hosiery before getting out of bed in the morning (i.e. before gravity has taken effect)
- SRC Pregnancy Shorts (www.srcenterprises.com.au) are very effective in providing relief for vulval varicosities. These garments can be ordered through Mater's Health & Wellness Clinic. Please phone 07 3163 6000 to place your order.
- Support hosiery can be accessed through pharmacies or Medical Accessories of Australia (http://www.medicalaccessories.com.au/)
- Alternatively, you can try supportive underwear (with a gusset) or bike pants with double sanitary pads inside.
It is worth the effort?
Although leg and vulval varicosities normally reduce immediately after having your baby, you may find that symptoms recur with future pregnancies and also (more mildly) as a pre-menstrual symptom of your monthly cycle. However, it is certainly worth doing whatever you can to minimise this problem by using the hints above and becoming active and healthy again after you have had your baby.
For further information, or to make an appointment with a physiotherapist, phone 07 3163 6000.
Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Last modified 17/11/2015.