Are varicose veins more common in women than men?



Did you know that varicose veins affect almost twice as many women as men and are more common in older women?
According to the office of Women’s Health, spider veins may affect more than half of the women in the U.S.
There are two primary reasons why women are more likely to develop varicose veins than men: pregnancy and hormones.


During pregnancy your blood volume doubles. This increase in blood volume can stress your blood vessels and cause
your veins to swell. Also, the extra weight you’re carrying can also add stress to your veins. These two factors may
weaken or damage your valves, which can result in varicose veins or spider veins.


Estrogen and progesterone are female hormones that play an important role in fertility and menstruation. These
hormones may also be partly responsible for why women are more likely to develop varicose veins than men. These
hormones cause the muscles that control the movement of your blood in your veins to relax. This relaxation may affect
blood flow and lead to blood pooling.

Varicose veins and spider veins

Varicose veins are twisted veins that can be blue, purple, or skin-colored. The larger veins may appear ropelike and
make the skin bulge out. Spider veins are smaller than varicose veins. They are usually red, purple, or blue. They may
look like tree branches or spider webs. Spider veins can usually be seen under the skin, but they do not make the skin
bulge out like varicose veins do. Spider veins are usually found on the legs, chest, or face.

When to see your doctor

If your varicose veins or spider veins cause you pain and discomfort, talk to your healthcare provider. Especially if you
have any of the following:
 Pain or discomfort from the vein(s).
 The vein has become swollen, red or very tender or warm to the touch, which can be a sign of a blood clot.
 You have sores or a rash on your leg or near your ankle.
 The skin on your ankle, shin, or calf changes color.
 One of the varicose or spider veins begin to bleed.
 Your symptoms keep you from doing daily activities.
 You develop swelling in your legs.

For more information on varicose and spider veins or to schedule an appointment visit


About the author:
Kristi Pennenberg, APNP, FNP-BC
Nurse Practitioner
“When patients meet with me, they can expect to be treated with respect and like a member of my family. By caring for each patient on an individual basis, I can tailor a plan of care to safely meet their needs. As we build a collaborative relationship, I educate them and honestly answer any questions they may have about their current medical conditions, treatment options, upcoming procedures, and medications.”


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