Family Planning and Pregnancy With Lymphedema or Lipedema

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

Family Planning and Pregnancy With Lymphedema or Lipedema

Have you just started thinking about raising a family? Or are you already a mother-to-be? In both cases your feelings might switch between excitement and concern about how this decision could affect your condition and whether you can pass it on to your baby.

Are Lymphedema and Lipedema Hereditary Conditions?

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

Lymphedema can have primary or secondary causes, the latter being more common. Primary lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic system has not developed adequately (or is not functioning as it should) from birth due to a genetic reason. Secondary lymphedema is the much more frequent cause of lymphedema and most often occurs related to cancer and its treatment, obesity, or trauma. This means that some types of primary lymphedema are inherited diseases, whereas most cases of lymphedema have different causes.

The situation is different with lipedema: It is still unknown how and why lipedema develops. The role of heritability continues to be investigated. Many lipedema patients report similar signs and symptoms in female family members. Besides, lipedema is often 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 Lymphedema or Lipedema

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 lymphedema or lipedema 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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