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Hemorrhoids in pregnancy

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Overview of hemorrhoids in pregnancy

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are common and can sometimes be very painful and cause severe bleeding. The problem occurs when the veins in the rectum or near the anus swells and tends to bulge out. These blood vessels or veins can sometimes be outside the anus, in which case it will be painful and sometimes can be inside the rectum and is not painful. Sometimes a person can have both of them together. The problem is often not serious and frequently cures on its own but can sometimes demand medical attention. During pregnancy hemorrhoids can be very uncomfortable and in some cases even make sitting difficult.


Symptoms for hemorrhoids in pregnancy

The most common sign of internal hemorrhoids is traces of blood when passing stool. In cases where internal hemorrhoids stick out functions like sitting may become painful. There can also be bleeding when external hemorrhoids are scratched or broken by straining or rubbing.  Symptoms of external hemorrhoids also include painful lumps around the anus which are irritating, itchy and may bleed.  

Causes for hemorrhoids in pregnancy

The reason behind someone getting hemorrhoids can be varied but for pregnant women it is a direct result of the pressure the fetus exerts in the abdominal region. Veins carry blood from all across the body to our heart and during pregnancy the fetus and uterus put pressure on the veins, impairing the return of blood to the heart. This causes the blood vessels to swell under pressure. Hemorrhoids can also be caused due to hormonal changes in the body. During pregnancy elevated levels of hormones like progesterone can cause the veins to swell. In certain cases progesterone also causes constipation which can lead to straining of the veins around the anus under pressure and leading to hemorrhoids. 


How to treat hemorrhoids in pregnancy

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are temporary and often disappear on its own. However, treatment many be necessary to get relief from the symptoms and provide comfort. Putting ice pack around the affected region can provide relief. Irritation can be soothed by applying zinc oxide medication around the area. Sometimes hydrocortisone is also prescribed but should be used sparingly.

Much of treatment for hemorrhoids are home treatments and can include: 

More fiber – Hemorrhoids can be managed if there is a change in diet to include food with more fiber. This will include fresh fruits, leafy vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals. Doctors may also advice increasing the intake of fluid and recommend about six to eight glasses of water or fresh juice each day. Probiotics can also help prevent and treat hemorrhoids. 

Sitz Bath – Sitz bath is a process where the bottom is immersed in a tub of warm water (not hot) for about 10-20 minutes. Repeated over 3-4 times a day the procedure can provide much relief and comfort. A pregnant woman, however, has to be careful that she is able to get up comfortably after the sitz bath and hence soaking in a shallow lukewarm tub is recommended. Sometimes epson salts or hydrogen peroxide can also be used in the sitz bath. Once out of the tub wipe the area around the anus with a soft towel to keep it dry and clean. 

Exercise – There are different types of exercises for pregnant women. Contrary to popular belief that a pregnant lady should rest, a woman should exercise about 30 minutes a day. These exercises are less strenuous and include activities like walking, swimming and low impact aerobics. These exercises strengthen muscles and build endurance. Exercises also help stimulate bowel movement and prevent constipation. Yoga also proves beneficial in cases of hemorrhoids during pregnancy. 

Kegal Exercise – This type of exercise is more known for tightening vaginal muscles by contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor. Kegal exercises increase the anal area’s blood circulation and helps treat hemorrhoids. 

In cases where home remedies do not work or the conditions are severe, a surgery maybe needed to treat the problem. Different techniques include:

Rubber band ligation – This is mainly an outpatient process and involves less pain and lesser recovery time. In this procedure, a rubber band is attached to the base of the hemorrhoid that cuts of the blood supply. The hemorrhoid will then shrink and fall off within a week. 

Hemorrhoidectomy – This surgical method is painful and requires hospitalization. This method includes cutting around the hemorrhoidal tissue and tying the affected vein to prevent bleeding. Subsequently the hemorrhoids are removed by cutting them out. 

Staples – This procedure was introduced in the 1990s as a less painful alternative to hemorrhoidectomy surgery. The procedure works to remove the troublesome hemorrhoidal tissue and stapling back the remaining tissue back into its original position. 

Other methods of treatment include Sclerotherapy where a chemical is injected to collapse a hemorrhoidal vein and electrical, laser or infrared light treatment of the hemorrhoidal tissue. 


Prevention of  hemorrhoids in pregnancy

Hemorrhoids can be prevented in pregnant women and often does not take much effort.

One must pass bowel as soon as the urge occurs and not try to stop it. This increases the chance of constipation. When facing issues like constipation, avoid straining to forcibly pass bowel. This causes pressure to build up in the veins. Laxatives can be used to ease conditions of constipation. Pregnancy does not mean rest and a woman should have an active life that consists of frequent exercise like walking. It is also very important to include lot of fiber in your food consumption and drink plenty of water.

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Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: September 02, 2013

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