What causes vulvar varicosities during pregnancy, and how can I relieve the related discomfort?

Answer From Julie A. Lamppa, C.N.M., R.N.

Vulvar varicosities are varicose veins at the outer surface of the female genitalia (vulva). They occur most often during pregnancy. This is due to the increase in blood volume to the pelvic region during pregnancy and the associated decrease in how quickly your blood flows from your lower body to your heart. As a result, blood pools in the veins of your lower extremities as well as your vulvar region — causing vulvar varicosities. Vulvar varicosities can occur alone or along with varicose veins of the legs.

Vulvar varicosities don't always cause signs and symptoms. If they occur, they might include a feeling of fullness or pressure in the vulvar area, vulvar swelling and discomfort. In extreme cases, the dilated vessels can bulge. They might look bluish and feel bumpy. Long periods of standing, exercise and sex can aggravate the condition.

To feel relief:

  • Get a support garment. Look for one specifically designed for vulvar varicosities. Some designs also provide support for the lower abdomen and lower back.
  • Change position. Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Elevate your legs. This can help promote circulation.
  • Apply cold compresses to your vulva. This might ease your discomfort.

Vulvar varicosities likely won't affect your mode of delivery. These veins tend to have a low blood flow. As a result, even if bleeding occurred, it could easily be controlled.

Typically, vulvar varicosities related to pregnancy go away within about six weeks after delivery.

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June 03, 2020 See more Expert Answers