Women's Healthcare Topics

Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Sign you have Hemorrhoids

If you experience pain or itching in or around the rectum and bleeding, you may be surprised to find a swollen or inflamed mass of tissue that looks something like a giant skin tag. This is usually a sign of hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are common and result from blood vessels in the rectal area or vagina that become overly swollen. Hemorrhoids are simply another form of varicose vein that women are susceptible to during pregnancy. They may be small in size or quite large, itchy or for some even painful. Some women experience rectal bleeding along with hemorrhoid pain.

Causes of Hemorrhoids

Pregnant women are more susceptible to varicose veins in general in part due to the increasing amount of blood circulating in their body during pregnancy and in part due to fluctuating hormonal levels.Increasing levels of progesterone can help soften the walls of veins causing them to collapse and function improperly.

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy result as the uterus puts more pressure on the veins supporting the pelvis including the inferior vena cava. They can also form from straining too much during a bowel movement. Because pregnant women often experience constipation during pregnancy, hemorrhoids are often problematic and may increase during pregnancy.

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Hemorrhoid Treatment

Learn about how to care for hemorrhoids in pregnancy.

Most importantly you should focus on eating a high fiber diet complemented by plenty of fluids. This will help keep you more regular and reduce the amount of constipation you experience during pregnancy. More often than not hemorrhoids result from constipation. Your best chance for preventing them is to stay as regular as possible during pregnancy. You might even consider drinking a cup of prune juice daily to help promote regular bowel movements.

If you develop hemorrhoids try a sitz bath. Most drugstores sell the supplies you need for a sitz bath. Basically this is just a mini bath that allows you to soak your rectum in warm water. This can help relieve the pain and irritation associated with hemorrhoids.

Try using an ice pack or other cold compress on the affected area. This can help reduce swelling and help minimize the pain associated with hemorrhoids.

Try using hemorrhoid pads. These contain witch hazel, and are generally safe to use during pregnancy. While there are other hemorrhoid related products on the market, you should check in with your doctor before using them during pregnancy. Some may result in more irritation than when you started. Remember that skin is overly sensitive when pregnant, hence it is best to err on the side of caution.

Wipe gently when pregnant. This will help reduce irritation and help prevent bleeding from hemorrhoids. You may find pre-moistened feminine cleansers or wipes more useful than toilet paper when dealing with hemorrhoids.

Some medications are available over the counter without a prescription. They come in the form of either creams or ointments that you rub on your hemorrhoid to relieve the pain, itching, and swelling. Other hemorrhoid treatments come in a suppository form that you place inside your rectum. It is OK to try the various hemorrhoid medicines, but do not use medicines that have hydrocortisone (a steroid medicine) for more than a week, unless your doctor gives the OK.

If you still are having problems after trying these medications, you may need your doctor to destroy or remove the hemorrhoids.

A popular treatment to remove your hemorrhoids is called “rubber band ligation.” For this treatment, the doctor will place a tiny rubber band around the hemorrhoids. In a few days the hemorrhoid will shrink and fall off.


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