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Varicose Veins in Men: Everything You Need to Know

Varicose Veins in Men: Everything You Need to Know

It may surprise you to learn that up to 56% of men will suffer from varicose veins over the course of their lifetime.

So if you’re a man and you suffer from varicose veins, you’re far from alone. Although often wrongly thought of as a women’s issue, the truth is that nearly as many men are affected by varicose veins as women.

Read on to find out the causes of varicose veins in men, tips for prevention and when you should seek treatment. 

Why are varicose veins thought of as a ‘women’s issue’?

There are two main reasons why many people think varicose veins mostly happen to women. 

The first is pregnancy: pregnant women have an influx of hormones that can make them more susceptible to inflamed and irritated veins. This, combined with issues such as water retention and the added weight and pressure on the organs from the baby, can lead to varicose veins (most of which heal naturally after childbirth). 

The second reason is that varicose veins in women tend to be more visible: the superficial vein segments are more commonly affected, while males often have swollen veins in the less visible deep vein segments.

So while it is true that vein disease is more common in women, the discrepancy isn’t as wide as many tend to think. 

What causes vein disease in men?


So why do men get varicose veins? Aside from pregnancy and some hormonal differences, the simple answer is: the same reasons women do! 

Four of the biggest causes are: 

  • Age: up to 40% of men develop varicose veins in their 30s;
  • Genetics: you’re more likely to develop vein disease if it runs in your family; 
  • Your lifestyle: poor diet and a lack of exercise, as well as being overweight, all put you at a much higher risk. Smoking will also make you more likely to develop vein disease; and
  • Your job: if your job requires you to either remain standing (e.g. manual labourers) or seated (e.g. long-haul truck drivers) for lengthy periods of time, your vein health is also more likely to suffer.

Don’t let stigma get in the way of treatment

The preconception that men don’t suffer from varicose veins can sometimes get in the way of individuals dealing with the issue or seeking treatment. Another barrier can be the thought that getting your veins treated is a purely aesthetic issue. 

This means that men will often wait until their symptoms get significantly worse before they seek treatment. This can include debilitating pain that can get in the way of normal life, such as work and social events.

Worst of all, waiting too long to get treatment can be dangerous. Untreated varicose veins can lead to blood clots and even deep vein thrombosis, which can be fatal. 

Top tips for healthy veins


If you’re worried about your vein health, there are some things you can do to lower the risk of developing varicose veins, or ease the symptoms and prevent more from appearing if you already have them.

  • Work out: exercise is one of the best ways to improve your vein health since it promotes good blood circulation. Biking, the elliptical machine and leg exercises are all ideal;
  • Improve your diet: having a balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals will help your body to strengthen your vessel walls, which is essential for pumping blood up the legs to the heart; 
  • Quit smoking: smoking weakens the vessel walls and is even known to encourage the formation of blood clots. If you want to drop the habit but need help, there are a number of free services that offer advice and assistance. 

When to seek treatment


While lifestyle factors are important, adopting new habits is not a substitute for treatment and will not reverse vein disease or make your varicose veins disappear. 

If you’re experiencing regular symptoms such as pain, discomfort, throbbing or numbness, it’s very important to talk to a doctor. Bear in mind that while GPs will inform you as best they can, it’s always best to seek out advice from a specialist if possible. 

The NHS only covers treatment for the most severe cases, so it’s worth looking into the pricing options of reputable vein clinics such as ours. If you have private insurance through BUPA or AXA, your treatment may well be covered.