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Pregnancy Hemorrhoids: Causes, Risks & Treatment

What are Pregnancy Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen blood vessels in and around the anus and lower rectum. This is commonly seen in pregnant women in their third trimester when the enlarged uterus puts pressure on the veins, which is called pregnancy hemorrhoids.  

Hemorrhoids can happen to anyone. Pregnant women experience many internal and external changes in their bodies. Hence they are more prone to piles. 

Pregnancy Hemorrhoids cause discomfort, itching, and bleeding during bowel movements. It is important to get them treated at an early stage as it may worsen during labour when the woman tries to push the baby out of the womb.

Piles during pregnancy are sometimes also recurrent. Some women who had piles in their first gestation are more likely to develop the symptoms in their next pregnancies as well.

Though piles cause irritation and affect the lifestyle during pregnancy, they are not harmful to the mother and the baby. The problem can be cured when treated at the right time.

How is it caused?

Piles during pregnancy can be caused due to the following reasons:

  • Pregnant women experience huge hormonal changes. The hormone Progesterone considerably increases in pregnancy and  causes the walls of the veins near the anus to relax. Due to this, the veins can easily get swollen, resulting in hemorrhoids.
  • During pregnancy, uterus expands in  the pelvis, resulting in pressure on the veins near the anus and rectum. Hence, the veins swell and cause pain.
  • Pregnant women with constipation are more prone to hemorrhoids. Constipation is common with most of the women during pregnancy, as the uterus grows and pushes over the bowel, even though it is unlikely that everyone will develop piles.
  • Women who strain during bowel movements
  • Sitting or standing for a long duration
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the functioning of the digestive system resulting in constipation .
  • Low fiber diet can also lead to constipation resulting in piles.

What are the symptoms associated with Pregnancy Hemorrhoids?

Piles during pregnancy have the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding during bowel movement
  • Itching, discomfort and swelling in anus
  • A lump like growth hanging out of the anus
  • Discomfort during passing stools
  • Discharge of mucus after the bowel movement
  • Burning sensation after the bowel movement

What are the types of Pregnancy Hemorrhoids?

There are two types of piles that can occur during pregnancy:

  1. Internal hemorrhoids – These are inside the rectum and normally cause no symptoms. These sometimes cause slight discomfort during or after the bowel movements when there is straining . In rare cases, bleeding can happen. The person may not be able to see or feel internal hemorrhoids unless there is pain or bleeding.
  2. External hemorrhoids – These are outside , around the anus. Symptoms are usually experienced with external hemorrhoids. This type can even lead to thrombosed hemorrhoids (blood clot on the hemorrhoidal veins leading to severe pain and swelling of the anal tissues).

How is it treated?

Pregnancy hemorrhoids eventually get better after the pregnancy by themselves. Meanwhile, some home remedies and routines can ease pain and irritation, which are as follows:

  • The anus has to be kept clean and dry. Moist or wet wipes can be used to clean the area after the bowel movements than using dry toilet paper, which can lead to irritation.
  • Ice packs have to be applied on the area frequently. This can help ease the pain and reduce the swelling.
  • The anal area has to be soaked in and washed with warm water for 10 minutes many times a day. This can be done by sitting on a basin fitted over the toilet seat. A bathtub can also help by filling the tub with warm water and sitting on it. Warm water helps to disinfect any bacteria around the anal region and keeps the area safe from developing further infections.
  • Wet or dry baking soda can be applied to the area to help alleviate the itching sensation.
  • Scratching or wiping the area harshly should be avoided. Gentle patting with a wet towel is recommended after bathing or bowel movements.
  • As long as the anal  area is kept dry, the irritation and itching stays away. Excess moisture can increase the discomfort.
  • Wipes or pads containing witch hazel can be used to clean the area
  • Taking bath in epsom salt mixed water can ease off the irritation
  • Analgesics: Ointment or cream can be used for external hemorrhoids, if it involves pain and irritation

It is important to reach out to the doctor when the home remedies do not help with symptoms. It is also necessary to check with the doctor before taking any home medications to treat piles during pregnancy.

How can Hemorrhoids be prevented?

The key prevention to hemorrhoids during pregnancy is to avoid constipation. Below are a few tips to prevent it.

  • Including fiber-rich foods into the  daily diet helps avoid constipation. Some high-fiber foods are fruits like pears, avocados and berries; vegetables like broccoli, beetroot, carrot, beans, lentils, green peas, and whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, etc. Nuts and seeds in a regular diet play an important role in avoiding constipation.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids helps ease the difficulty in passing the stools. It is necessary to drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day.
  • Holding the urge to pass the stools leads to constipation. Using the toilet as soon as the urge is felt is recommended .
  • Avoiding sitting or standing for a long period of time helps reduce the pressure on the rectal veins
  • Keeping the body active by doing pelvic muscle exercises during pregnancy can help avoid constipation. Kegels help to activate the pelvic muscles and support the rectum. By doing such exercises, the flow of blood to the rectal area can be improved.
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