What causes varicose veins?


Causes of Varicose Veins

Our veins have one-way valves to allow blood to travel in one direction only. If the walls of the vein lose their elasticity (flexibility) and become stretched, the valves become weaker. A weak valve allows blood to flow backward which is the opposite direction. This causes blood to accumulate in the vein(s) which enlarges and swells the vein.

Veins located further away from the heart are most often affected. As gravity makes it harder for the blood to flow to the heart, the veins on our legs are more likely to be affected. Any condition that pressurizes the abdomen, such as, pregnancy, can cause varicose veins.

Certain factors increase your likelihood of developing them, such as:

–    having an immediate family member with varicose veins

–    being female

–    pregnancy

–    overweight

–    older age

–    extensive standing or sitting


If a close relative has varicose veins, your risk of developing the condition is higher. This means varicose veins might be brought about by your genes.


Women are more prone to be affected by varicose veins than men. Female hormones, in general, relax the walls of veins, making the vein valves inclined to leak. These hormones are brought about by pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, and menopause.


Overweight exerts too much pressure on your veins, making them work harder when sending the blood back to your heart. This adds to pressure on the valves making you more prone to leaking. The impact of body weight to develop varicose veins is more likely in women.


As you age, your veins begin to lose their flexibility and the valves in it stop working.


Occupations that require extending periods of standing or sitting may add to your risk of developing venous disorders. This is because your blood does not flow smoothly while standing or sitting for long periods of time.


When you are pregnant, the volume of blood increases to help your baby develop. This puts more pressure on your veins. The increase in hormone levels during pregnancy causes the muscular walls of the veins to relax, which likewise increases your risk.

Varicose veins may develop as the uterus grows. As the uterus grows, it exerts pressure on veins in your pelvic area, which may cause them to weaken.

Being pregnant does increase the chance of developing this condition, however, many women have found their veins improve after the baby is conceived when wearing compression stockings during pregnancy.

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