Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy: What are They?

Pregnancy is a magical time, filled with wonder and excitement and … pain? Hopefully not! However, if you develop a nasty condition called hemorrhoids, or “piles”, the magic can take on a feel of a curse sometimes. That's not a good thing. Knowledge is power and the more you understand about what's going on, the more equipped you will feel to regain the magic. Let's talk about hemorrhoids.

Most of us have heard of varicose veins during pregnancy. We usually think of them as bulging, twisted, unsightly blood vessels in the lower legs requiring the use of unfashionable, tight stockings. Well, hemorrhoids are varicose veins too but they rear their ugly heads inside the rectum or around the anus (that's the part of the body where the bowel eliminates stool). The hemorrhoids inside the rectum are called “internal”; those on the outside are called “external”.

Regardless of where the hemorrhoids are located they cause annoying symptoms such as pain, bleeding, burning, itching, a sensation of sitting on balls, and involuntary (and unwelcome) discharge. They are a nuisance and can most definitely take the magic out of your pregnancy.

So why do you have them, and why now? Hemorrhoids are caused by an increase of pressure in the vessels of the lower bowel. The pressure causes them to bulge and twist and get inflamed and irritated. What causes the increased pressure? In the case of pregnancy there are basically two reasons.

The first is the extra weight of the growing baby. The second is the almost certain sunset of constipation during pregnancy. The constipation causes other problems which aggravate the hemorrhoids further, such as training with bowel movements and irritation of the blood vessels in the rectum and around the anus.

The pressure in the pelvis increases even more than it was from the pregnancy itself. Further, the vessels get irritated by the passing of dry, hard stool. This sets into motion a cycle of pain, bleeding and itching which we'll discuss later.

There are a variety of things you can do about your situation.

However, the last of the things to do is to ignore the symptoms. The primary reason to take action is to ensure that your problem is indeed related to hemorrhoids and not to something more serious that may require medical attention. The second, and equally important, reason is to take back your life during your pregnancy! When you are holding that bundle of joy in your arms at last, you want to remember the past nine months as a time when your baby was growing and receiving its very life sustance from you! You do not want to remember it as a time of bleeding, itching, burning, embarrassment, and self-imposed isolation from social events.