If you think varicose veins strike only women, think again. While the majority of varicose vein patients are women, it’s important to note that men also suffer from this painful condition that appears as bulging blue or purple veins twisting around the legs, ankles, and feet.
According to one 2011 study, about 40% of adults displayed the signs of varicose veins, with the condition more common among obese people and women who had had more than two pregnancies. The study also noted that in Western populations, varicose veins were seen in 25% to 30% of women and 10% to 20% of men.
On the other hand, an older study contradicted the long-held belief that women account for the majority of varicose vein patients. It found that of the more than 1,500 people studied, 40% of the men and 32% of the women were diagnosed with venous insufficiency. Clearly, additional research is needed — but these studies do suggest that both genders need to be aware of the dangers of varicose veins.
Given the fact that men may be affected by varicose veins, they should be aware of the importance of good vein health. Rather than dismissing the condition as a “women’s only” disorder, or choosing to ignore what seems like just an aesthetic concern, men should seriously consider seeking treatment for their varicose veins.
Men and Varicose Veins
Many varicose vein patients are women — potentially because women are subject to hormonal varicose veins. Progesterone, the hormone that regulates menstrual cycles, also dilates the walls of the vein. This weakens the valves in the veins tasked with pumping blood back to the heart from the extremities. Instead of flowing upward, blood pools in the veins, forcing the veins to pop up from under the skin.
However, many of the other risk factors for varicose veins can equally affect men. Heredity, sitting or standing for long periods on the job, long plane rides, and obesity all increase the odds that a man will develop varicose veins.
This is especially concerning because men can be more reluctant than women to seek treatment for vein issues. Even if men notice varicose veins along their legs, they may ignore them, believing it’s only a “cosmetic” problem. Yet varicose veins can lead to some serious health issues if left untreated. Painful, throbbing, and heavy legs are common symptoms of varicose veins. But varicose veins have also been linked to restless leg syndrome — a condition that keeps sufferers awake at night with involuntary leg movements — and with a greater chance of blood clots. Spontaneous bleeding and ulcerated skin around the veins are other harmful side-effects that may occur.
Men with varicose veins may want to consider a recent news story in The Mirror, a paper in the U.K. The piece described a former Royal Marine who had long delayed treatment for his varicose veins. The patient finally sought therapy after years of dealing in secret with concerning medical symptoms, and he urged other men to do the same. “I think it’s important as a man to speak out about having the treatment, so that others realize it’s not just older women who suffer with varicose veins, but that men do too,” he said.
Treatments are Available
Both men and women suffering from varicose veins shouldn’t delay treatment. At Vein & Vascular Institute, we offer a wide range of in-office, minimally invasive procedures to rid you of your varicose veins. We’ll create a treatment plan designed specifically for your needs and lifestyle. Don’t live another day with the pain of varicose veins. Contact us today for an appointment.