Vulvar Varicosities: Understanding Vein-Related Pain

As Vulva Consultants regularly explain to their new patients: “Vulvar varicosities refer to a swelling of the veins in the genital area. They often occur during pregnancy. After delivery, they usually go away on their own. However, you should speak with a Vulva Doctor, if: vulvar varicosities do not go away after pregnancy, if symptoms are severe, if there are signs of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or if they occur for no clear reason. Your Vulva Doctor may wish to carry out some tests or monitor the veins in order to prevent complications” [1]

The Low-Down

A woman’s vulva comprises countless large and small blood vessels. When transitioning through pregnancy, varicose veins can suddenly appear. This is due to pressure on the genitals and lower body, as well as the effect of increased blood flow. The feet and legs are the most common regions where varicose veins show up, however, as Vulva Consultants witness every day, they can
also impact the genital region, for example, the vulva and perineum, between the vagina and anus [1].

Did You Know?

Vulvar varicosities are a category of varicose veins. The veins may be large, painful and twisted; or tiny and only fairly swollen. However, the important point to be mindful of, is that:
“Not everyone with vulvar varicosities notices them or has symptoms. Even when symptoms do appear, the veins may not be visible. Anyone who experiences symptoms should speak with a Vulva Doctor” [1]. This in-person or online consultation should be arranged as soon as possible – that way you can receive an accurate diagnosis, and get started on a Holistic Personalised Treatment Plan right from the get-go

So What Vulvar Varicosities Symptoms Should I Look Out For?

Alongside visibly swollen or twisted veins, other symptoms incorporate:
• Soreness, tenderness and pain in or around the genital region
• A feeling of fullness, pressure or heaviness in the genital area
• Swelling in or around the genital region
• Itching
• Pain which is exacerbated after physical activity, sexual activity, or standing
• Wrinkly skin
• The appearance of spider veins within the pelvic region or elsewhere
• Reticular veins (which appear blue or purple under the skin, but do not bulge out)
Note: the varicosities can affect the perineum and the lips of the vulva. Moreover, women who suffer from vulvar varicosities can also develop haemorrhoids [1].

Putting a A Spotlight on the Causes of Vulvar Varicosities

Veins comprise valves which are designed to stop blood flowing backwards. To that end, veins in the lower body need to be in optimum condition in order to be able to send blood back up to the heart. If this process is impaired, then varicose veins are likely to form [1].

Pregnancy: the Most Common Reason For Vulvar Varicosities

” During pregnancy, increased blood flow to the genitals and pressure on the lower body can make it harder for blood to flow in the proper direction. The blood may flow backward or pool, thereby creating varicose veins. Vulvar Varicosities occur in around 8% of pregnancies, and usually go away without treatment 30–40 days after delivery” [1]

In addition, when a woman is pregnant, the veins may enlarge as a result of pressure on the inferior vena cava (a major vein); or due to fluctuations in hormones. – Thus culminating in varicose veins. Of note, women who experience severe symptoms may need some form of medical intervention. – And this is why it is so important to see a Vulva Consultant at your first available opportunity [1].

Various Other Factors

“A 2017 study estimates that 22–34% of females with varicose veins near their pelvis also develop vulvar varicosities” [1]

Vulvar varicosities can also impact older women who spent a lot of time standing up, as well as those who:
• Have particular genetic features
• Are obese
• Smoke
• Have high levels or iron, or an iron-overload disorder
• Have a history of deep vein thrombosis [1]


[1]. Villines, Z. (2023). “Vulvar varicosities: What to know about varicose veins on the vulva.” Medical News Today.