Why Are Women More Prone to Varicose Veins?

Posted on February 5, 2021 by Dr Elenora Fedoneko

Although varicose veins can affect both men and women, women are between two and four times more likely to develop them – with up to half of the women eventually suffering from varicose and/or spider veins.

Hormone Levels and Varicose Veins

The circulation problems that lead to varicose veins affect both men and women, so why are women disproportionately more likely to develop them? It appears that changes in hormone levels can affect how well the one-way valves in our blood vessels work. These valves normally prevent blood from flowing “backward” inside our veins and also help blood flow against the force of gravity. They’re mainly located in our arms and legs. Our arteries, in contrast, do not contain one-way valves.

The female hormone that has the main effect on one-way valves is progesterone. Aside from its main purpose of helping to regulate the menstrual cycle and the health of the uterus, it can also result in the blood vessel walls relaxing. This can have the unfortunate side-effect of disrupting normal blood flow and causing long-term damage to the blood vessel valves. Estrogen can also affect blood circulation, and hence women taking hormonal-based contraceptives can also see their chance of developing varicose veins increase.

And as if this weren’t enough, normal pregnancies and ultimately menopause also disrupt hormone levels, with associated negative effects on blood vessel health.


The temporary changes to a woman’s body during pregnancy will often result in varicose veins starting to develop – this can be due to the extra demands placed on the blood circulation system by the need to support a growing baby, but also by purely physical pressure that the baby places on interior veins. In most cases, pregnancy-induced varicose veins will go away following delivery.

Hereditary Causes

Whether due to hormonal problems or not, your chances of developing varicose veins are mainly determined by genetic (hereditary) factors. Over 75% of patients with varicose veins also have close relatives with similar problems.

Reducing Your Chance of Developing Varicose Veins

Keeping active, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive eating and alcohol consumption will increase your overall health and reduce your chances of developing varicose or spider veins. Unfortunately, they may not be enough to eliminate your chance of developing the problem, especially if you’re a woman.

Wearing tight clothes or high heels and/or spending extended periods standing or sitting can also impact your blood circulation, which (over extended periods) may result in blood vessel and valve damage. So try to wear comfortable loose clothing, and try to vary your body position, and generally keep active. Note that special support hose can help improve blood circulation – they’re not built the same as regular pantyhose and apply most pressure at the ankle.


Non-invasive laser vein therapy and Sclerotherapy procedures are available. They can help to reduce the appearance of varicose or spider veins. Still, it’s also strongly recommended to seek qualified medical advice in case your varicose veins could be caused by other more significant health problems. Untreated varicose veins can lead to serious health risks, another reason to seek the opinion of an experienced doctor before deciding on any treatment.

Your Laser Skin Care

Your Laser Skin Care professionals are medically qualified and highly experienced – we offer a full range of services, including a full diagnosis of the cause of your varicose veins and advice on the best ways to treat the condition. We have extensive experience providing both laser vein therapy and Sclerotherapy treatments, as well as a host of other non-invasive cosmetic procedures. Call us at (323) 457-8740 to schedule a free consultation or visit us online for more information. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have on the most effective way to address whatever cosmetic problems trouble you.

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Dr. Fedonenko is a member of the American College of Physicians and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine.

She completed her Residency at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1998 and has since specialized in Cosmetic Dermatology.

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