Hemorrhoids have always been “the butt of jokes” but they are in fact no laughing matter. When they develop or intensify during pregnancy the situation becomes even more complicated. Hemorrhoids are caused by an increase in abdominal pressure, often as a result of constipation and training. It is imperative that they be relieved during pregnancy because of the increase of abdominal pressure that is yet to come; that is, labor and delivery. Taking steps to alleviate the pressure and ease the inflammation can eliminate the threat of complications in the future.
So what can go wrong with untreated hemorrhoids? What are the possible complications?
- Thrombosis: This means that an external hemorrhoid has developed a clot. (There are two kinds of hemorrhoids: internal hemorrhoids develop inside the rectum and can not be seen without a medical instrument. External hemorrhoids occur around the anus and are visible.)
- Strangulation: In this case, the blood supply to the hemorrhoid has been cut off. This situation requires immediate medical intervention.
- Gangrene: This is death of tissue and can result from an untreated destabilized hernia.
- Septicemia: This is a generalized blood infection which can result if gangrene developments.
- GI bleeding: If blood appears in the stool, the physician will want to determine where it is coming from. There is a continuous passage between the mouth and the anus. Therefore, it is not safe to assume that blood in the stool is from irritated hemorrhoids. (If the blood is bright red rather than dark or even black, it is an indication that its source is near the anus.) Hemorrhoids, even irritated ones, do not usually bleed enough to cause significant loss; still, blood in the stool is serious and needs to be investigated.)
- Anemia: If blood loss is significant and goes on for a long period of time it is possible to become somewhat anemic. This is a rare event but is included to examine what could happen if a hemorrhoids are ignored.
- Tenesmus: This is a sensation that the bowel is not empty. It can occur with hemorrhoids and it can occur with pregnancy. Therefore, if you feel that your bowel is never fully empty, consult with your doctor to ensure that there is not a hidden cause for this symptom.
- Constipation: This is a significant cause of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids often develop or worsen during pregnancy because of extra weight, hormonal changes, and increased abdominal pressure. This creates a case of “the worse it gets, the worse it gets”. Symptoms of hemorrhoids during pregnancy must be addressed lest the constipation worsen, causing the hemorrhoids to worsen, and on and on.
- Infection: A condition called pruritus ani may develop on the skin surrounding the anus. This occurs as a result of insufficient cleaning of the anus after a bowel movement because of tenderness.
Now for a little perspective. The purpose of this article was exactly as stated: to explain possible complications from hemorrhoids during pregnancy. The vast majority of pregnant ladies with hemorrhoids do not develop any of these complications. In fact, the major complication you will experience is the pain, itching, burning, and bleeding associated with your hemorrhoids and the reduction of your quality of life during this time. Do not let it be! Deal with your hemorrhoids!