12.2.1  Varicosities (varicose veins)

Important! Genital varicosities can cause bleeding if they tear during birth, so refer a woman who has this problem to a health centre.

Swollen blue veins that appear in the legs are called varicosities, or varicose veins, and are very common in pregnancy. Sometimes these veins hurt. Pressure by the enlarging uterus on the veins that return blood to the heart from the legs is a major factor in the development of varicosities in the leg veins. Very rarely, swollen veins may develop in the external genitalia and these are very painful.


If the swollen veins are in the legs, they may feel better if the woman puts her feet up often. Strong stockings or elastic bandages may also help. If the swollen veins are around the genitals, a panty-girdle or sanitary pad may help to support them.

12.2  Swollen veins

12.2.2  Haemorrhoids (piles)