Pregnancy comes with a multitude of physical changes and according to Healthline, for 50 percent of women this includes hemorrhoids. These common occurrences can cause discomfort and pain. Learn more about hemorrhoids and how they may affect you:
What are hemorrhoids
According to Mayo Clinic, “hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum, similar to varicose veins. Hemorrhoids can develop inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids).”
These hemorrhoids typically aren’t felt or seen due to their location inside the rectum. They’re discovered because of blood in your stool, on your toilet paper or inside the toilet during a bowel movement. They can also be discovered through a rectal exam done by your healthcare provider during an exam.
These hemorrhoids typically result in more discomfort or pain because they are located under the skin around your anus. Besides the discomfort and pain, signs of an external hemorrhoid are similar to internal ones and include bleeding during a bowel movement, irritation in your anal region and swelling around your anus.
How to treat them
Treatment for hemorrhoids can include a combination of home care or healthcare provider supported care. Healthline recommends the following home remedies:
- Pain relief. Soak in a warm tub of water for a few minutes everyday or sit on a warm water bottle to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids. You can also use an over-the-counter ointment or cream to relieve the burning and itching. A cold compress can also be used to lessen anal swelling caused by hemorrhoids.
- Fiber supplements. If you’re feeling constipated, try a fiber supplement to soften your stool and ease the pain.
- Hygiene. Keeping your anus clean using warm water can help treat your hemorrhoids. Avoid using soap especially heavily scented ones to prevent irritation.
- Pads containing witch hazel. This plant is used to relieve itching and pain. It can be purchased in liquid form or can also be found in anti-itch wipes. An extra bonus – chilled witch hazel pads can help with vaginal soreness following a vaginal delivery! Postpartum mommas can treat two symptoms with one pad.
If your home care remedies aren’t providing any relief, it may be time to see your healthcare provider. Mayo Clinic lists the following potential treatment options:
- Medication. Your healthcare provider may recommend ointments, creams, suppositories or pads to help relieve your discomfort. Don’t use an over-the-counter steroid cream for more than a week unless directed by your healthcare provider because it can thin your skin.
- External hemorrhoid thrombectomy. If a thrombosis, a painful blood clot, occurs your healthcare provider can remove the hemorrhoid. This procedure is done under local anesthesia and is most effective if done within 72 hours of developing the clot.
- Minimally invasive procedures. For persistent bleeding, your healthcare provider might recommend a minimally invasive surgery. These are done at your doctors office or other outpatient settings and usually don’t require anesthesia. These procedures include: rubber band ligation, injection (sclerotherapy) and coagulation.
- Surgery. A small percentage of people with hemorrhoids require surgery, and your healthcare provider can help you determine if your hemorrhoids are to the level of needing a hemorrhoidectomy (hemorrhoid removal) or hemorrhoid stapling.
Hemorrhoids during and after pregnancy
What to Expect says hemorrhoids can occur at any time but are especially common in the third trimester of pregnancy and one month after delivery. Causes of hemorrhoids during pregnancy and postpartum are constipation, pressure from your enlarging uterus, increased blood flow to the pelvic area and pushing for extended periods of time during delivery.
What can you do?
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat a high-fiber diet
- Don’t force your bowel movements
- Keep your areas clean
- Have a warm soak in the tub
- Try sitting on a donut-shaped pillow
The best thing you can do is ask your healthcare provider. They can help you find the best prevention methods for hemorrhoids or the best treatment for you if you develop some.