What are vulval varicosities?


This story has been used with permission

Colleen (not her real name) was 30 years old and 23 weeks pregnant with her second baby. She also had a 2 year old.

She noticed lumpiness in her vaginal area, after experiencing heaviness for a few days before. She felt swollen, and it also was uncomfortable against her underwear. Colleen was very concerned as she didn't know what this was, so she checked with her doctor who confirmed it was varicose veins around her vaginal area and the skin on the outside. This can sometimes happen during pregnancy and can be quite uncomfortable as you can imagine. Unfortunately some women are more prone to varicose veins than others, and they can occur in this area too, not just in the legs.

Colleen also contacted her Physiotherapist, who she had seen after her first baby was born, for pelvic floor exercises. Her Physiotherapist checked her pelvic floor muscles, and gave her a pelvic floor muscle exercise program to continue. When the muscles are working well, it helps to reduce the feeling of pressure in the vaginal area due to the varicose veins.

Colleen was also advised to rest where possible, spacing her activities out throughout the day. She should sit down when able, instead of standing, and minimize lifting of her toddler whenever possible. Following the advice, "What can I do if I have a prolapse?" can be helpful if you experience vulval varicosities. Other advice includes wearing lycra bike pants, two pairs of underwear or a sanitary pad for support.

Unfortunately, these will probably not go away until after the birth of your baby, when you no longer have the pressure of your baby pushing down, or all the extra fluid in your body, or the effects of the pregnancy hormones softening your veins. It is a matter of using the advice above to minimize the chance of them becoming worse and to help you become more comfortable.

 

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