Menopause can affect the body in a variety of ways. Bones can become brittle, sexual desire can wane, and those blue, bulging varicose veins in legs can appear. This is all due to decreased production by the ovaries of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The drop in these hormones may cause the walls of the veins to weaken, along with the valves in these veins. Coupled with gravity, this can cause the blood to pool in the lower extremities and can result in varicose veins. While the normal aging process can cause weakening of the blood vessel walls, women are more likely to suffer from varicose veins than men due to these hormonal changes. Here are some strategies to protect your veins through menopause.

First and foremost, you should try to stay active. Low impact exercise is good for your circulatory system overall, and can help to keep blood from pooling in the legs. Try walking with your spouse or a friend every day after dinner. Swimming is also particularly beneficial in preventing varicose veins, because the pressure of the water increases circulation. If you sit for long periods of time, remind yourself to get up and move every hour. Finally, make sure you are eating right. Obesity is also a risk factor for varicose veins.

If you are watching your weight, exercising regularly and eating healthy, and still experiencing varicose veins, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may benefit you. This type of treatment involves artificially raising levels of the hormones that diminish during menopause, estrogen and progesterone, along with testosterone in some cases. Here are some pros and cons of HRT to help you decide if this option is right for you.

Pros of HRT

Some women experience only slight to moderate symptoms during menopause, while others experience symptoms that are more severe. HRT can help to diminish not only varicose veins, but to ease the other symptoms when they are extreme. It has been particularly useful in preventing osteoporosis, which can help you to avoid fractures later in life. It can also be beneficial for hot flashes, sleep problems and mood swings, as well as lowering your risk for colon cancer.

Cons of HRT

Many people don’t like the fact that HRT is artificial and disrupts a natural process. It can also lead to other health conditions like breast and uterine cancer, heart attack and stroke. Some women can experience blood clots as well as a rise in blood pressure.

After weighing the benefits versus the risks, if HRT is not right for you, of course there are alternatives for treating varicose veins. These include minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedures that are quick and effective. Armed with the best information, you can make the decision that is right for you.