Varicose Vein Treatment: Do Birth Control Pills Cause Varicose Veins?
It’s happened to many women. When they actually take the time to read the required fine print that comes with their birth control pills, they discover how the pill can affect their veins. They read the warnings and they wonder if these anti-pregnancy pills come with too large a price to pay. They worry that birth control pills may make them need varicose vein treatment at a relatively young age. Sometimes it’s actually their male partners that discover this unsettling information in the fine print. They become concerned and start to ask important questions like, “Will birth control pills cause my wife to develop varicose veins?”
Since varicose veins run in families, it’s natural for a woman taking birth control to start checking with the female members in her family. Did Aunt Liz, who had varicose vein treatment at age 48, take birth control pills? Is cousin Susie, who has been on birth control pills since she was nineteen, showing any signs of varicose veins? Mom, did all three of my great aunts have varicose veins? I know it was different back then but did their doctors advise them to get varicose vein treatment?
These ladies may also start checking with their friends and female co-workers. They compare notes and talk about correlation and timing. Did Sara get varicose veins BEFORE she went off the pill and got pregnant or after? Often, they find out what many women before them have already concluded. While they may not have conducted their personal survey in the most scientific way, they do start to notice a correlation between taking birth control pills and needing varicose vein treatment like sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatment (EVLT).
These ladies may then turn to the internet to do additional research and see if they can find scientific evidence for what they think they’ve already figured out from their family and social network. They may type into Google, “Do birth control pills cause varicose veins?” That’s when they find out about hidden varicose veins, those faulty vein valves and damaged vein walls that occur in deep veins that you can’t see on the skin. Perhaps instead of a sonogram, they need a duplex ultrasound on their legs to see if they already have varicose veins and need varicose vein treatment but just don’t know it yet.
While several websites claim there is “no clinical evidence” for a link between varicose veins and taking birth control pills, there is also plenty of evidence that demonstrates that hormonal changes in the female body can trigger the formation of varicose veins. Major hormonal changes occur during pregnancy and at menopause and these are two major events in a woman’s life well known to correspond with an increased risk of varicose veins. In fact, multiple pregnancies are as high a risk factor for developing varicose veins as heredity!
Although there are different types of birth control pills, they all use synthetic versions of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, to mimic pregnancy. This prevents ovulation of the monthly egg, and without an egg, there’s no pregnancy. Just like during a real pregnancy, these hormones cause the veins to dilate and become more elastic. These two factors, in addition to the increased blood volume in your veins when you take the pill, can indeed cause varicose veins and the need for varicose vein treatment.
If you are on birth control pills, it is a good idea to have regular checkups at a varicose vein treatment clinic. This becomes even more important if varicose veins run in your family and or if you have to stand a lot on your job. Factory workers, nurses, surgeons, and welders are a few examples of jobs where standing can increase your risk for varicose veins, especially if you take birth control pills.
It is also very important to remember that you can have venous reflux without actually being able to see varicose veins. There is also good evidence for an increased risk to developing blood clots in your legs if you take birth control pills so this is another good reason to have duplex ultrasound done on a regular basis.
The only way to know for certain if you have venous reflux or other abnormalities in your deep veins, i.e. varicosities in your deep veins and or blood clots, is to periodically have a duplex ultrasound. Luckily, you can get a free evaluation at Metro Vein Centers just by calling for an appointment. The vein specialists at Metro Vein Centers are top notch and they will be able to quickly ascertain whether or not you have venous reflux or other hidden varicosities. You can also talk with a vein doctors at Metro Vein Centers about your birth control pills and he or she can help you weigh the various risk factors.