Why Women Develop Varicose Veins More Often Than Men

Woman holding her legContrary to popular opinion, varicose veins are not just a pregnant woman or older woman’s problem. Still, venous insufficiency tends to affect more women than men.

Usually, most of the people who seek relief for leg pain in St. George are women. Here are various ways being female can increase your chance of developing abnormal leg veins.

Higher levels of progesterone

Progesterone tends to cause the walls of blood vessels to tense up and the small valves within them to relax. Since women have higher levels of this hormone, they are more likely to develop distended and weakened veins.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal imbalances occur during puberty, pre-menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. The changes in the female hormones can lead to the weakening of veins. Birth control pills and other medications containing progesterone and estrogen also increase the risks of varicose veins.


Besides hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy increases the risk for varicose veins in other ways:

  • Circulatory changes. Pregnancy increases the volume of blood in a woman’s body. It also decreases the flow of the blood from the woman’s legs to her pelvis. While these circulatory changes help support the developing fetus, they increase the risk of enlarged veins.
  • Pressure from the uterus. Abnormal veins usually develop or become worse during late pregnancy. Weight gain during this time makes it harder for blood in the legs to flow back to the heart properly. The extra weight also exerts additional pressure on the legs and blood vessels.

You’re at a higher risk of developing varicose veins if swollen and twisted veins run in your family or are older, and you stand or sit for extended periods. Talk to experts at veins centers about how to reduce your chances of getting varicose veins or about treatment options if you already have them.