You may be surprised to learn that men suffer from varicose veins, a health concern that is more typically associated with women. This vein condition is actually fairly common in men, particularly as they get older. In fact, more than 40 percent of men in their seventies are affected by varicose veins. Varicose veins can be very painful and unsightly, and can sometimes lead to other medical conditions or complications.
Varicose Veins: How they happen
How do vein conditions occur in men? As in women, varicose veins can be traced to problems in the circulatory system. Many vein conditions result from a failure in the circulatory system’s valves, which regulate blood flow. If the valves do not function properly, too much blood can collect in the section of vein below the valve, adding pressure to the valve wall. This pressure can cause your veins to stretch out of shape, appearing enlarged and discolored, resulting in varicose veins. Men who suffer from varicose veins may have inherited the condition, which can be exacerbated by being tall or overweight, as well as long periods of sitting or standing.
In addition to swollen, discolored and enlarged veins, symptoms of varicose veins or venous insufficiency can include aching, cramping and burning, itching and tingling, pain that gets worse when standing, or night cramps and swollen ankles.
Varicose Veins and Male Infertility
One surprising medical condition that is associated with varicose veins in men is male infertility. Roughly fifteen percent of all men get varicose veins in the scrotum, regardless of age. This is a condition known as varicoceles, which can lead to depleted testosterone levels. According to experts, the testes have two important functions: the production of sperm, and the production of testosterone. If a man suffers from varicose veins in the scrotum, he may have impaired testosterone production that can result in infertility. It is estimated that nearly thirty-five percent of all cases of infertility experienced by couples during their first attempt to get pregnant are a result of varicoceles (male infertility.) Luckily, varicoceles can be treated by removal of the offending veins through a simple surgery, returning testosterone levels to normal with a few months of treatment for a large percentage of patients.
Male menopause, known as andropause, can also result from varicoceles. The symptoms or early onset of male menopause can be minimized through a simple microsurgery to remove the offending veins from the scrotum to increase the production of testosterone.
Prevention of Vein Conditions in Men
Vein conditions can be hereditary, but there are things men can do to prevent the development of symptoms or complications from varicose veins or venous insufficiency.
- Ask your physician to check for varicoceles as part of your routine health exam. Early detection will allow for early preventative measures – or treatments – to head off any discomfort, infertility or other issues associated with the condition.
- Wear compression socks or a vein support stocking over the affected area. These are designed to put variegated pressure along the leg, with the tightest fit occurring in the lower limb. When valves in the circulatory system are not performing their shut-off function properly, compression socks can help by squeezing the veins and preventing the blood from flowing backwards and pooling in one section of a vein.
More Tips for Relief from Varicose Veins:
Take a load off. When at rest, you should elevate your legs whenever possible, positioning your legs higher than your heart.
Flex it! When you have been sitting or standing for long periods of time, try to remember to flex your ankles up and down every 10 minutes or so. This will pump blood out of your legs by simulating the ankle-flexing motion that happens when you are walking.
Skip the Jacuzzi. Excessive heat can increase any distention of your veins, which can lead to more pooling of blood in your lower extremities. Sitting in hot tubs or hot baths will exacerbate vein conditions.
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