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No one likes to talk about them, but hemorrhoids are a fact of life for many people, especially during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are simply veins inside or outside of your anus that have become large and swollen.

Also called piles, they can look like varicose veins when outside your body. Hemorrhoids develop frequently during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester and during and shortly after childbirth.

You may have hemorrhoids only during pregnancy, or you may have them at other times of your life as well.

The causes of your hemorrhoids may be unique to pregnancy. You can often treat or prevent hemorrhoids with home-based remedies and lifestyle adjustments.

There are two types of hemorrhoids:

  • internal hemorrhoids, which are inside of your body
  • external hemorrhoids, which are outside of your body

Your symptoms may vary depending on which type you have.

hemorrhoid symptoms during pregnancy
  • bleeding (you may notice blood when you wipe after a bowel movement)
  • painful bowel movements
  • a raised area of skin near your anus
  • itching
  • burning
  • swelling

Generally, you will experience these symptoms with external hemorrhoids. You may have no symptoms with internal hemorrhoids.

You may also develop a blood clot in an external hemorrhoid. This is known as a thrombosed hemorrhoid. They are generally hard, inflamed, and more painful.

It’s possible to push out an internal hemorrhoid when having a bowel movement. If this occurs, you may experience bleeding and discomfort.

Up to 50 percent of women develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy.

causes of hemorrhoids during pregnancy
  • increased blood volume, leading to larger veins
  • pressure on veins near your anus from the baby and your growing uterus
  • changing hormones
  • constipation

You may be more susceptible to constipation in pregnancy than in other times of life. One recent study found that among 280 pregnant women, 45.7 percent had constipation.

This constipation may be due to prolonged sitting, hormonal changes, or from taking iron or other supplements.

Your hemorrhoids may disappear completely after pregnancy and delivery without any treatment as your hormone levels, blood volume, and intra-abdominal pressure decrease after delivery.

The most common times hemorrhoids develop during pregnancy is in your third trimester and during and immediately after childbirth. You may develop hemorrhoids from childbirth if you experience extended straining during the second stage of labor.

There are many home remedies and lifestyle modifications you can try to reduce hemorrhoids.

It’s a good idea not to ignore them, since untreated hemorrhoids may get worse with time and may cause complications such as increased pain, or in rare cases anemia from bleeding.

You may also need to reach out to your doctor to diagnose and treat your hemorrhoids. Since hemorrhoids are not the only cause of bleeding near your anus, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor if you notice new bleeding when you wipe or in your stool.

Home remedies

There are many things you can do at home to relieve and prevent hemorrhoids.

home remedies for hemorrhoids
  • Use wipes or pads that contain witch hazel.
  • Use gentle, flushable wipes when you use the toilet.
  • Use a sitz bath or soak in clean warm water for 10 minutes at a time a few times a day.
  • Take Epsom salt baths in warm water that’s not too hot.
  • Hold an ice pack on the area for a few minutes several times a day.
  • Move around frequently and try not to sit for too long to avoid extra pressure on your anus.
  • Drink lots of water and eat foods high in fiber to help keep stools soft.
  • Avoid straining while having a bowel movement or sitting on the toilet for long periods of time.
  • Perform Kegel exercises to strengthen muscles.
  • Lie on your side rather than sitting to reduce pressure on your anus.

You can shop for many of these items online:

Medical treatment

You may want to see a doctor before treating hemorrhoids at home. This will ensure you get a proper diagnosis and understand the treatment options available to you.

During pregnancy, always speak to your doctor before taking any medication, including those you apply to your skin. This will ensure treatments do not pose a risk to your baby.

Your doctor may be able to recommend a safe laxative or a suppository to relieve constipation. Witch hazel may also be a homeopathic treatment for hemorrhoids during pregnancy, but always talk to your doctor first.

Some prescription oral treatments, like ruto-sides and hidrosmine, are available for treating hemorrhoids, but they may not be safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Topical treatments available over-the-counter or by prescription may help hemorrhoids, but they may not be safe for pregnancy. Make sure to discuss them with your doctor.

These topical medications may include pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Medical treatment for hemorrhoids includes:

  • Rubber band ligation. During banding, a small rubber band is placed around the base of a hemorrhoid. The band stops the flow of blood into the hemorrhoid and eventually the hemorrhoid will fall off. This usually takes 10 to 12 days. Scar tissue is formed during this process that helps prevent the hemorrhoid form recurring in that same location.
  • Sclerotherapy. A chemical solution is injected directly into the hemorrhoid. This causes it to shrink and to form scar tissue. It’s possible for a hemorrhoid to return after this treatment.
  • Hemorrhoidectomy. This is a surgical procedure to remove hemorrhoids. It’s associated with several risks, including general anesthesia, risk of damage to the muscles of the anus, more pain, and a longer recovery time. As a result, this treatment is only recommended for severe hemorrhoids or when there are complications, such as many hemorrhoids or hemorrhoids that have prolapsed.
  • Stapledhemorrhoidopexy. The hemorrhoidal tissue is placed back inside the anus and held in place using surgical staples.

Your doctor may suggest packing the site of the hemorrhoid with absorbent bandages to avoid excessive bleeding.

You can try to reduce hemorrhoids or prevent them from developing in several ways.

tips to reduce hemorrhoids during pregnancy
  • Eat a diet full of fiber-rich foods, like vegetables and fruits.
  • Drink plenty of water to help keep your stools soft and your bowel movements regular.
  • Avoid straining when using the toilet.
  • Avoid sitting on the toilet for long periods of time.
  • Pass a bowel movement as soon as you feel it coming — not holding it in or delaying.
  • Move around as much as you can by exercising and avoid long periods of sitting.
  • Talk to your doctor about adding a supplement to your diet that helps avoid constipation.

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are common. Seek treatment immediately if you discover a hemorrhoid since they can get worse.

There are many home treatments you can try, but you may need medical treatment as well. Talk to your doctor about any treatment that may affect your pregnancy.

After childbirth, your hemorrhoids may clear up on their own without any treatment.