Many women associate hemorrhoids with pregnancy because the latter puts a lot of stress on the former. This pressure often results in a large variety of complications for pregnant women, one of which is hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are very common among pregnant women, but they should not be alarmed as they are a largely unavoidable part of pregnancy, especially during the third trimester.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen or inflamed blood vessels that can be located in the anal canal. There are two types of hemorrhoids: external and internal. External hemorrhoids are located under the skin around the anus, while internal hemorrhoids are located in the anal canal.
Internal hemorrhoids can sometimes cause painless rectal bleeding, while external hemorrhoids can cause pain and discomfort around the anus. The severity of hemorrhoids can range from slightly uncomfortable and itchy to an unequivocal pain. Rectal bleeding is common during bowel movements for those who suffer from hemorrhoids.
Why are hemorrhoids and pregnancy so common together?
Pregnancy can be a difficult time for a woman’s body, and one of the more common issues that can crop up is hemorrhoids. This is because the growing uterus puts pressure on the inferior vena cava and pelvic veins, which in turn slows the returning blood flow from the lower parts of the body. This increased pressure on the veins below the uterus can cause them to swell or dilate.
Hemorrhoids are unfortunately a common condition for pregnant women which can be caused by other underlying conditions such as constipation. Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy which can increase the chances for hemorrhoids not only because it is a direct cause but also because it can exacerbate the effects of progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone present at increased levels during pregnancy which relaxes the walls of veins and makes them more prone to swelling. In addition to this, the hormone also slows down the intestinal tract which then in turn aggravates constipation.
Steps for preventing hemorrhoids
To avoid hemorrhoids, it is important to first avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Get up and take a walk for a few minutes every hour or so when you have to sit for extended periods. Kegel exercises are also helpful in preventing hemorrhoids as they help promote blood flow to the rectal area. Don’t be shy to also go on brisk walks regularly to help improve blood circulation.
A diet that is rich in fiber is critical for women who want to experience fewer issues with constipation. The fiber will add bulk to the stool, making it softer and easier to pass through the anal canal. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and beans are all excellent sources of fiber. Additionally, it is important for women to stay hydrated by drinking eight to ten glasses of water per day.
How to gain some amount of relief from hemorrhoids
Applying a cold compress to the affected area several times a day may help reduce the swelling caused by hemorrhoids. Some women find that a cold compress soaked with witch hazel is particularly comforting. Medically-soaked witch hazel tissue papers can also be used to wipe the affected area.
There are several ways to treat hemorrhoids, but one of the most effective is to soak the affected area in warm water for 10-15 minutes, a few times per day. If you don’t have access to a bathtub, don’t worry – you can buy a sitz bath, which is a small plastic tub that fits over your toilet seat and allows you to submerge your rectal area in warm water.
Hemorrhoids and pregnancy often go hand-in-hand, so if you’re in need of some immediate relief, don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare practitioner for a medicated suppository or topical anesthetic.