Pregnancy takes a woman’s body through a variety of complex and critical changes. While many of these natural developments work to provide the body with what it needs to successfully deliver an infant, there is always a risk of developing a certain number of detrimental conditions along the way. One common risk associated with pregnancy is the development of venous conditions. While some women will develop venous conditions for the first-time during pregnancy, there is also the potential for women who previously suffered from venous conditions to see their situation deteriorate during the pregnancy phase. It is estimated that 12.2 million individuals in the U.S. struggle with varicose veins alone while nearly 40% of women over the age of 50 suffer from a venous disorder of some type.
The development of varicose veins is most common vein disorder that occurs during pregnancy. During pregnancy multiple hemodynamic factors combine to increase the pressure in the leg veins. There is an increase in circulating blood volume. The growing uterus puts pressure on the inferior vena cava which increases the pressure in all veins below in the legs. The increase in the hormone progesterone leads to dilation of smooth muscles including the smooth muscle in the veins. For all these reasons pregnancy is the most common precipitating factor for development of varicose veins in women. Often the varicose veins will improve and even resolve after delivery of the baby but sometime they will persist.
The Risk of Venous Thromboembolism During Pregnancy
While Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) can pose a significant risk for any patient, the potential for developing this condition during pregnancy increases four to five fold. While this risk is valid across all three trimesters of pregnancy, it can extend for up to six weeks postpartum as well. Those with a history of VTE are at a naturally higher risk than those who haven’t struggled with the condition in the past. Many patients who are pregnant and suffering from VTE present with pain and swelling in the legs. Between 70% and 90% of patients who ultimately develop Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) from this condition notice significant swelling in their left leg. To determine if VTE or DVT is present, a patient will generally undergo ultrasound imaging. A blood thinner such as Heparin is a common treatment option for patients who find themselves in this scenario. While Unfractionated Heparin is generally used close to the delivery time, Low Molecular Weight Heparin can be prescribed as well and is safe for nursing mothers. Heparin may be used for anywhere from six weeks to six months following delivery.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Patients experiencing chronic pelvic pain during pregnancy may have developed Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS). The condition is often caused by reflux or obstructions within the veins that run through and near the pelvis. It’s likely that more than one vein is involved in this condition and those who have been experiencing pain for more than six months may also suffer from associated symptoms including dysuria, left-flank pain or uncomfortable post-coital sensations. Ultrasound imaging is commonly used to verify PCS. Ovarian suppression or minimally invasive venous embolization may be recommended to treat PCS. In more severe cases, a hysterectomy may be the best plan of action.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you believe you may be suffering from a pregnancy-related venous condition, be sure to contact Dr. Wright at the St. Louis Laser Liposuction Center today. Our team is dedicated to helping patients achieve vein health so as to enjoy a pain-free quality of life.