Family Planning and Pregnancy With Lymphoedema or Lipoedema

Planning a family is a big decision to take. You might be concerned about how pregnancy will impact your lymphoedema or lipoedema, or you may be worried about whether your child will inherit your condition.

Family Planning and Pregnancy With Lymphoedema or Lipoedema

Are Lymphoedema and Lipoedema Hereditary Conditions?

This is probably one of the most frequent questions that patients with lymphoedema or lipoedema have when it comes to family planning. 

Lymphoedema can have primary or secondary causes, the latter being more common. Primary lymphoedema occurs when the lymphatic system has not developed adequately (or is not functioning as it should) due to a genetic anomaly. Secondary lymphoedema occurs because of other underlying factors. Some examples of these are cancer and its treatment, obesity, or trauma. This means that some types of primary lymphoedema are inherited diseases, whereas most cases of secondary lymphoedema have different causes. 

The situation is different with lipoedema. It is still unknown how and why lipoedema develops. The role of heritability continues to be investigated. Many lipoedema patients report similar signs and symptoms in female family members. Lipoedema can often be connected to hormonal changes such as during puberty, pregnancy or menopause, or while using birth control pills. Phases of weight gain play an important role here. 

For more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare professional to discuss your concerns. 

How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Lymphoedema or Lipoedema

During pregnancy, your veins must transport about 20% more blood to supply your growing child. Over time, the weight of the uterus also leads to blood and fluid retention in the lower legs. All this may put extra stress on your lymphatic system and may also worsen your lymphoedema or lipoedema symptoms. However, you can adapt your treatment in close cooperation with your healthcare professional or carer so that you can enjoy this special time. It is important to continue wearing your compression garments throughout the day. Besides, there are several ways to support your well-being. Activities such as swimming, gentle walks, or pregnancy yoga have a relaxing effect on your body and mind. Supporting products such as back belts can relieve back pain and improve your posture.

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