Birth Control and Varicose Veins

Most women are actively concerned with their health, and taking birth control—oral contraceptives, an implant, an IUD, or a patch—is a method used by many women to maintain control over their bodies and their overall wellness. Yet there are questions that arise when taking birth control pills (or any method of contraceptive), especially after reading the fine print in the medical information on the package, which can be a cause for alarm in some women, especially pertaining to their venous health.

Does my birth control cause varicose veins?

Probably not. Varicose veins are caused by a number of factors, including heredity, age, weight gain and obesity, pregnancy, and in some cases, prolonged standing.

However, hormonal fluctuations could play a role in the appearance of varicose veins. Since birth control pills contain hormones, some patients worry about pills increasing their risk of developing varicose veins. Fortunately, there is no clinical evidence to support this is the case or that birth control alone will lead to varicose veins.

Can I take birth control if I already have varicose veins?

Of course—however, if you have visible varicose veins, it’s always a good idea to get them checked out by a vein specialist. This can give you peace of mind that there are no other venous issues that could be impacted by your contraceptive.

Am I at higher risk for blood clots if I am on contraceptives?

Blood clots do pose a significant health danger. And unfortunately, there is a known link between contraceptives and an increase in incidence of blood clot formation. In the fine print of every type of oral contraceptive, you will see the warning for the risk, which brings a higher average of risk than women who are not on birth control. This risk is increased significantly, though, for women who smoke.

Blood clots that form in the deeper veins of the leg can break free, leading to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If the blood clot gets into the lung, this causes a pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening.

In a majority of cases, contraceptives will have no adverse effects on your venous health if you maintain a regularly healthy lifestyle, especially avoiding smoking. However, since heredity plays a large role in determining whether you will develop varicose veins, the best policy is to get regular venous checkups and stay proactive in monitoring your body and treating any potential ailments.

The good news is that varicose veins are easily treatable, usually involving a short office visit to receive sclerotherapy—a series of injections of sclerosant, which damages the inside lining of the vein. The subsequent scarring causes the vein to close. Because varicose veins are a medical condition that can have very harmful effects if left untreated, most health plans will cover the procedure. For more information on sclerotherapy for treatment of persistent varicose veins or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 760-944-9263 or visit us at