Also known as piles, hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your lower rectum and anus. External hemorrhoids are located under the skin around the anus. Internal hemorrhoids are located in the rectum.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 75 percent of adults will periodically have hemorrhoids.

It isn’t unusual for people with hemorrhoids to be curious about how they got them. Questions that might come up are, “Did I catch them from someone?” and “Can I transmit them to someone else?”

No, hemorrhoids are not contagious. They can’t be transmitted to other people through any sort of contact, including sexual intercourse.

When the veins in your lower rectum and anus stretch under pressure, they may swell or bulge. These are hemorrhoids. The pressure that makes them swell can be caused by:

Signs that you have hemorrhoids include:

  • swelling of your anus
  • itching in the area of your anus
  • discomfort or pain in the area of your anus
  • a painful or sensitive lump near your anus
  • small amounts of blood when you move your bowels

If you can consistently keep your stools soft enough to pass easily, then there’s a good chance you can avoid hemorrhoids. Here are some of the ways to help prevent them:

  • Eat a diet that’s high in fiber.
  • Stay properly hydrated.
  • Don’t strain when having a bowel movement.
  • Don’t hold off the urge to defecate. Go as soon as you feel the impulse.
  • Stay active and physically fit.
  • Don’t sit on the toilet for long periods of time.

Along with eating a high fiber diet and staying hydrated, your doctor might recommend a number of treatment options including:

  • Topical treatments. Topical treatments such as an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream, pads with a numbing agent, or hydrocortisone suppositories are often suggested for treating hemorrhoids.
  • Good hygiene. Keep your anal area clean and dry.
  • Soft toilet paper. Avoid rough toilet paper and consider dampening the toilet paper with water or a cleaning agent that doesn’t contain alcohol or perfume.
  • Pain management. If the discomfort is difficult to manage, over-the-counter pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen can offer temporary relief.

If your hemorrhoids are persistently painful and/or bleeding, your doctor might recommend a procedure to remove the hemorrhoids such as:

Hemorrhoids aren’t contagious; they’re typically caused by pressure.

Hemorrhoids are common, and there are specific ways to treat them as well as lifestyle decisions you can make that can help you avoid them.

If the pain from your hemorrhoids is persistent or your hemorrhoids are bleeding, consult with a doctor about the best treatment option for you.