Birth Control and Varicose Veins

Oral contraceptive or hormonal birth control can have many benefits for women. Not only does it allow for responsible family planning, it can also regulate a woman’s cycle, ease cramps, manage hormonal acne, manage PMDD and other medical conditions as well. Although there are several benefits to birth control, it is also associated with unwanted side effects like mood swings, weight gain, spotting, increased blood pressure and more. One side effect a lot of people ask about is does birth control cause varicose veins? We are here to help provide some clarity around the topic.

How Do Birth Control Pills Work?

Birth control pills contain levels of estrogen and progestin (or just progestin if it’s a progestin-only pill), which are the same hormones a woman’s body produces. The hormones in birth control pills work to override the signals from the brain to the ovaries and signals the ovaries to go into hibernation to suppress the ovulation process. The way it works is you swallow one pill every day at the same time. Overall, oral contraceptives are known to be safe, but there are always side effects. 

Does Birth Control Cause Varicose Veins? 

The good news is that there is no evidence that birth control causes varicose veins. However because of the estrogen and progestin in some of the pills, it can cause dilation or a bit of fluid retention which can make veins bulge a little more and be more prominent. This is, of course, not varicose veins, but birth control can make veins appear more visible or obvious on the surface of the skin. 

Does Birth Control Cause Blood Clots? 

Although there is no evidence that birth control causes varicose veins, there is known evidence that birth control can put women at risk for developing blood clots – although that risk is very low. According to WebMD, only 0.3-1.0% of women using birth control over the past 10 years have experienced blood clots. Blood clots that develop in the legs, lungs, or brain can be especially dangerous or even fatal. The hormone estrogen is known to increase blood pressure which can contribute to blood clots. 

Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Being on the pill can increase the risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DMT), which is a clot in a deep vein in the body, typically the leg or thigh. This is a serious condition, because blood clots can loosen and lodge in the lungs. It is more dangerous to be a smoker while also on the pill because it increases the risk of blood issues that can cause DMT. 

How to Prevent Varicose Veins and Blood Clots

If you are taking the pill, please consult with your doctor on the safest way to take the pill while managing an active lifestyle and healthy blood flow to prevent any unwanted side effects. In general, it is recommended to be mindful of how often you are sitting and standing so you can manage proper blood flow. Wearing compression socks is another option that can help provide support and maintain healthy blood flow as well. 

Palisades Vein center can also provide a full vein screening to see any other vein-related issues. Contact us today.