Oedema (Water Retention)
Oedema, also referred to as swelling, is a common condition that can affect women at various stages of their lives. It occurs when an excessive amount of fluid builds up in the body's tissues, resulting in swelling, discomfort, and pain. Oedema can impact different areas of the body, including the hands, feet, ankles, legs, face, and abdomen.
During pregnancy, oedema frequently occurs due to hormonal changes, increased blood volume, and the pressure exerted by the growing uterus on blood vessels. This can lead to reduced circulation and fluid retention, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy when the uterus compresses the pelvic blood vessels and hinders venous return from the legs. Hormonal fluctuations can also disrupt the body's fluid balance, resulting in increased water retention and swelling.
Oedema can also affect women during other life stages, such as menstruation, when hormonal shifts can cause fluid retention and bloating. Women using hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives may also experience oedema as a side effect of these medications.
The discomfort associated with oedema can significantly impact a woman's quality of life, causing swelling, pain, and difficulties with mobility. Swollen feet and ankles can make it challenging to find suitable footwear, while swollen hands can affect dexterity and fine motor skills. Oedema in the face and abdomen can cause discomfort and alter one's appearance.
The management of oedema depends on its underlying cause and severity. In cases where oedema is related to pregnancy, lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, leg elevation, and avoiding prolonged periods of standing or sitting can help reduce fluid retention. Wearing compression stockings, maintaining proper hydration, and following a healthy diet low in sodium can also be beneficial.