Q4. Why do women get varicose veins more than men?

A4. There are a few reasons for this. A major factor is pregnancy: carrying a baby puts a strain on the veins in the pelvis. This causes them to increase in size and eventually become damaged.

Another factor is the female hormone oestrogen. This has the effect of relaxing the walls of the veins which means that they are prone to leakages. Fluctuating hormone levels are also a problem during menstruation and the menopause which causes them to have the same effect on the vein walls.

Oral contraceptives such as "the pill" have the same effect as does hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

So basically it can all be blamed on oestrogen. There is not a great deal you can do about this apart from being aware of this risk. Speak to your GP about switching to another type of contraceptive if this is a problem.

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