Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy
|What Are Hemorrhoids?
A mild medical condition, hemorrhoids are clusters of dilated or swollen veins located around the anal area (image). Also called piles, hemorrhoids are a form of varicose veins (see pregnancy varicose veins). They are particularly common in people who suffer from constipation and are a frequent problem in pregnancy. Pregnant women are prone to developing hemorrhoids because they are more likely to suffer from pregnancy constipation and increased abdominal pressure due to a growing uterus. Hemorrhoids are more common in the third trimester. They are also common in the postpartum period after birth, developing for example, after a woman pushes down during the second stage of labor. The good news is that hemorrhoids which appear during pregnancy or labor often disappear naturally within 3 months of delivery.
The classic sign is blood passed with a bowel movement. In many cases however bright red blood may only appear on the toilet paper rather than in the bowl. Sometimes there may be itching around the anus. Mostly hemorrhoids are not painful unless blood clots have formed. External hemorrhoids appear as purple bulges protruding from the anus. Internal hemorrhoids are not visible but may be suspected if blood is passing with the stool.
Usually hemorrhoids are diagnosed based on symptoms. It may be confused with anal fissure, another common condition which results from rectal bleeding and pain. As treatment for both conditions is the same, no particular danger can result from confusing them. However, always ask your doctor to check rectal bleeding as it can signal a more serious condition such as colon polyps or cancer. Your doctor or OB/GYN will listen to your symptoms and carry out a visual inspection of the anus area. He may use a lighted tube such as a proctoscope or anoscope to aid his vision. This may be slightly uncomfortable, but the procedure will only last a few minutes.
Natural treatments and home remedies for treating hemorrhoids include:
• Cooling the area with an ice pack, this will help reduce swelling.
There is little evidence to support that any of the well advertised gels, creams and suppositories which claim to cure hemorrhoids actually work. Some products may even cause allergies or other side effects. Pregnant women should always check with their doctor before using any over the counter hemorrhoid remedy. Medicated pads soaked with witch hazel under the brand name Tucks is one popular treatment and generally considered safe during pregnancy. Another popular treatment is Preparation H, which contains phenylephrine, a vasoconstrictor which makes the veins smaller. Preparation H comes in an ointment, cream, hemorrhoidal gel and suppository form. Anusol, another non-prescription medication, comes in the same format and is considered safe.
|Related Articles on PREGNANCY HEMORRHOIDS
For more signs and symptoms, see the following:
Return to Homepage: Womens Health Advice