When we think of lymphedema we often think of swollen arms, or compression socks. We don’t usually think about less common area’s where lymphedema can occur, like in the face or genitals.

Unfortunately, genital lymphedema is far less discussed than all other areas. The “taboo” nature of discussing genitals has led to deficiencies in the diagnostics and treatment of lymphedema occurring in the genital areas. Genital lymphedema can affect both males and females and can be considered primary (congenital) or secondary lymphedema. Secondary genital lymphedema can be caused by several factors including cancer and surgery.

In females, genital lymphedema can affect all or some parts of the internal and external female genitalia. In males, it is most common in the scrotum, but can also occur in the penis and surrounding structures. For both male and female genital lymphedema, it can occur in isolation but more commonly patients experience lymphedema in the genitals as well as the upper legs or lower abdomen.

Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options for patients including:

  • Compression Therapy
  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage
  • Skin Care
  • Exercise

Early detection and intervention are the key to success with conservative treatments for genital lymphedema. For this reason, it is important for both health care providers and patients to feel comfortable discussing and assessing genital lymphedema.

For more information on genital lymphedema speak with a certified lymphedema therapist.

More information on genital lymphedema can be found in the Canadian Lymphedema Framework’s winter 2021 Pathway’s magazine.