Will High Cholesterol Affect Pregnancy?

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For many adults, having high cholesterol can significantly affect the cardiovascular system because it can lead to atherosclerosis which then eventually can cause a clogged artery (a life-threatening condition that can cause heart attack or stroke, depending on where it occurs). But in pregnant women, elevated cholesterol is expected because it is required to support the growth of baby ‘particularly for baby’s brain development’. However, it’s also important to ensure that the increased level of your cholesterol during pregnancy does not go too far.

Does high pre-pregnancy cholesterol increase the risk of certain health conditions?

Since elevated cholesterol when you are being pregnant is something that expected, many studies are more focused in analyzing the effects of ‘high cholesterol before pregnancy’ to the risk of pregnancy complications and other health conditions.

image_illustration08Unfortunately, there is no clearly answer about this issue. But overall, when you are trying to get pregnant, all experts agree that it’s important to maintain your cholesterol at its best and healthy level.

Maintaining your cholesterol may not only be helpful to lower your risk of having some pregnancy complications, but also for your entire health – particularly for your heart and cardiovascular system.

And when it comes to discussing about the risk of pregnancy complications from high prepregnancy cholesterol, a condition called toxemia pregnancy or preeclampsia may be the major concern.

Preeclampsia is the development of kidney problems, swelling (severe swelling) and too high blood pressure during pregnancy. Though this complication is very rare (only occurs in about 5 percent of all pregnancies), but it is a fatal condition because can lead to miscarriage.

Typically, it occurs in a first pregnancy – and in the last trimester (20th week of pregnancy). The symptoms of preeclampsia may include severe swelling, visual disturbances, pain of stomach, and severe headache.

According to a research published on the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who have high cholesterol prior to their conception (before getting pregnant) are twice as likely to have preeclampsia if compared with other women with normal prepregnancy cholesterol.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear what a specific type of cholesterol and the level of cholesterol that has a significant effect to the increased risk of preeclampsia.

Is there a link between high cholesterol and conceiving (fertility)?

In women, high cholesterol doesn’t have any effect to the fertility. In fact, there is still no any scientific evidence to confirm the link of both.

However, many risk factors that can increase your risk of infertility also can increase the risk of developing high cholesterol.

For instances – tobacco use (cigarette smoking), abusing alcohol (excessive consumption of alcohol), overweight /obese, and lack of exercise are some factors that can affect your fertility and also can trigger your LDL (bad cholesterol) to rise.

No matter whether or not there is an effect of high cholesterol to your fertility, it’s clear that high LDL and low in HDL (good cholesterol) can be bad for your entire health in long term. So if your LDL and HDL levels are not normal – consult more with your doctor!

Lifestyle approaches such as regular exercise and eating right (low in saturated fat and high in fiber & other essential nutrients) can be very helpful to lower and control your cholesterol.

High cholesterol during pregnancy is common, but will it affect your pregnancy?

As the age of your pregnancy, your body will develop some changes to respond your pregnancy and prepare itself for delivery in the end of third trimester. How about with cholesterol? Does elevated cholesterol is normal along with the growth of your baby during pregnancy?

How far your elevated cholesterol should go?

Though the raised cholesterol during pregnancy is common and even expected for the growth of your baby, but this doesn’t mean you can go without control.

Still, you need to stick with a well-balanced diet. Eating right is not only helpful to make sure you get plenty of essential nutrients during pregnancy but also helpful to control the rise of your cholesterol.

In general, the expected levels of total cholesterol (a measure of your HDL, LDL, and other lipid components) should be not more than 337 mg /dL, according to an article written in the book titled “Pregnancy-induced hyperlipoproteinemia: review of the literature”.

Why does it occur?

Unlike in many adults, increased total cholesterol is common and even can be a normal part of pregnancy – as noted before.

Experts believe that changes of your lipid profiles during pregnancy play a key role.

The changes of lipid profiles are triggered by the elevated of pregnancy hormones. Even some women who are taking birth control may also experience these changes, but not as much as in pregnant women.

In many cases, the elevated of total cholesterol in pregnant women starts in the second trimester which then eventually reaches its peak level in the third trimester. In pregnant women, cholesterol at its basic level can be a necessary nutrient for the growth of their baby, especially for the development of the baby’s brain during pregnancy.

Will it affect your pregnancy?

As long as the elevated levels are not more than 337 mg /dL, it is commonly considered safe for the pregnancy.

However if you in-doubt with your condition, work with your doctor and make sure you tell any change or unusual symptom that you have! Your doctor can help determine whether or not your levels are safe during the course of your pregnancy.

In general, high cholesterol is not treated during pregnancy.

But if your doctor thinks that you need the treatment due to certain condition, lifestyle approaches are commonly more recommended to lower the cholesterol naturally and more safely.

What’s next – will it back to normal on its own after giving birth?

Yap, the elevated of your cholesterol will back to its pre-pregnancy level after your delivery on its own. However, how fast it returns can vary from woman to woman.


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