Bump Squad mama Audrey on dealing with vulvar varicosities.
Vulvar varicosities are as wholly unpleasant as they sound. As uncomfortable as they are, it's even more uncomfortable when a casual acquaintance inquires as to your well-being when you have them.
"How is this pregnancy treating you?"
"Oh, well, this one's been a bit rough."
"No, not since the first trimester, thankfully."
"Well then, what's so rough?"
"If you must know, I have varicose veins in my lady bits, and quite frankly, they're excruciating."
The conversation ends with one party irritable for having to discuss such things and the other highly embarrassed for having probed. On the other hand, you could just say, "I'm fine," and do your best not to wince every time you shift your weight.
I had mild vulvar varicosities with my son, and they just didn't go away after I gave birth. My OB told me there was nothing to be done until I was done having children. They really only bothered me when I was standing for long periods of time, and then it was just an achy heaviness. When I got pregnant with Little Miss, the malady returned with a vengeance at only week 7. At 32 weeks, they're completely unbearable.
I'd never seen anything about them in any of the pregnancy blogs I so religiously followed during my first pregnancy, and even a Google search turned up very little. When I asked what I could do about them at my 12 week appointment, the doctor said, "Well... Tylenol, and ice if you can stand it. That's about all you can do for now."
At this point, walking, standing, and sitting upright are difficult, and sex is completely out of the question. That's a lot of limitations and a lot of pain, yet we don't talk about it because... well, we just weren't raised to talk about our lady parts in public. I mean, come on, it was big news when an Olympian talked about her period on national television!
If you've dealt with this or are currently dealing with this issue, you know that you need support. You NEED to talk about it, mostly because you feel helpless and useless, and you just need people to understand that you're not just "playing the pregnancy card." And yet, you know that, in the grand scheme of things, you're lucky because it's not a serious complication. You just need a little encouragement, and you can get through it. Realize, that I write this less than 20 minutes after sobbing into my husband's shoulder, "I don't know how I'm going to make it another two months!" So either I'm a hypocrite, or I just have more faith in you than I have in myself.
Let me speak frankly in the spirit of full disclosure: the inability to exercise has caused me to gain a lot more weight than I'd hoped to during this pregnancy. Recently, I've become obsessed with "getting my body back" to the point that I've lost focus on the baby girl rolling around in my belly. Actually, the pain has made me extremely self-centered this entire pregnancy. I was horribly whiny during my first pregnancy, but I thought a lot more about baby and bonded with him much more. I've heard that's not an uncommon feeling the second time around, especially when you're preoccupied with chasing a toddler, but I can't help but feel like baby girl is missing out on something... or maybe that I'm missing out.
Enough with all the feelings, though. Now for practical application: what CAN you do about varicose veins in your vulva? First and foremost, take your doctor's advice, whatever that may be. Here are the only three things that worked for me:
-Lay down or at least get your feet up. Get pressure off your lower half.
-Get in the water. Baths didn't help me so much, but my twice-a-week water aerobics classes were a Godsend! The water helps take the pressure off. Just be prepared for the pressure to come rushing back as soon as you're out of the pool.
-Organic Perineal Balm. It's temporary relief, but it's about the only way I can get to sleep at night. It also makes your hoo-ha smell divine! I tried everything I could get my hands on, and really, this was the ONLY thing that provided ANY relief.
It's amazing that in the age of social media, where religion and politics are fair game in any conversation, we would still have trouble talking about legitimate medical issues that affect our genitals. Then again, after thousands of years, there are people who are still incensed by the idea of breastfeeding in public...