The link between birth control pills and varicose veins is one that is widely discussed and largely misunderstood. Some women are under the impression they cannot take birth control pills if they have varicose veins, while others may be fairly certain their oral contraceptive was the culprit behind those big, bulging vessels. If you are taking oral contraceptives and are concerned about how they might affect the veins in your lower legs, there are a few facts you need to know.
Why Varicose Veins Occur
Varicose veins are usually caused by an underlying condition known as venous insufficiency. This condition occurs when valves inside the vessels become damaged or wear out, allowing blood to pool inside. This leads to swelling of the vessels and visible varicosity.
There are many factors that can increase your risk for varicose veins, including:
- Age and gender
- Prolonged periods of standing
- Weight gain and obesity
Hormonal fluctuations may also play a role in the formation of varicose veins, which has led some to worry that birth control pills, which contain hormones, could increase the risk. However there is no clinical evidence to suggest birth control pills alone will increase your likelihood of developing varicose veins.
Birth Control and Blood Clots
On the other hand, birth control pills have been linked to an increased incidence of blood clot formation in the deep veins of the legs, a condition known as DVT. If the blood clot breaks free from its original location and travels through the blood stream to a lung, it can cause a potentially life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolism. There is some concern that people with varicose veins may have an increased risk for blood clots, due to the pooling of blood in the lower extremities. If the person has varicose veins and takes birth control pills, it is possible that risk could increase a bit more.
Should You Take Birth Control Pills with Varicose Veins?
In most cases, women can safely take birth control pills even if they already have visible varicose veins. However, it is a good idea to get those swollen vessels assessed by a vein specialist, to ensure there are no other vein issues occurring that could impact the safety of oral contraceptives. You can also consider treatment to eliminate your varicose veins and the concerns that might accompany them. To learn more about vein assessments or minimally-invasive treatments for varicose veins, contact Incredible Veins Skin & Body at 818-446-2995.