How Common Are Varicose Veins and What Causes Them?
The condition we call “varicose veins” is an extremely common venous disorder (the result of insufficient blood circulation). A weakening of the vein walls causes the circulatory problem. Although we do not know the precise mechanism that leads to the weakened vein walls, we do know the primary contributing factors:
- Sitting or standing for long periods
- Advancing age
- Being overweight
Women are more than twice as likely as men to be affected by abnormal leg veins (almost 70% of all women, compared to 30% of all men, will suffer from a venous disorder). Heredity is the primary contributing factor, but women are far more likely to be affected by many of the hormone-related factors: pregnancy, estrogen, progesterone, puberty, menopause, and use of birth-control pills.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, enlarged veins often result from increased hormone levels and blood volume. Increased pressure on veins from the enlarged uterus adds to the likelihood of varicose veins during pregnancy. Fortunately, post-delivery, and within 3 months, the condition often improves. Multiple pregnancies increase the likelihood of veins not returning to normal.
Any occupation that requires long periods of standing can increase predisposition to venous disorder, along with injury (especially to the legs), obesity, and aging.