Let’s face it. It’s not fun or elegant to talk about ‘butt stuff’ but if you are pregnant and you have noticed discomfort or a burning sensation during bowel movements, you are likely wondering what is going on! What you are likely feeling is a hemorrhoid, or hemorrhoids, and they are quite common during pregnancy. There is nothing wrong with you, and in most cases, hemorrhoids will go away by themselves. However, because this is after all an irritating occurrence, you might want to know what is going on!
So, what are hemorrhoids?
At the most basic level, a hemorrhoid is an enlarged, swollen vein located in the rectum. These veins are typically located inside the rectum, but there are some that become swollen close to the sphincter as well, and they will occasionally push outside your body, especially during a bowel movement. Hemorrhoids may be painful.
Hemorrhoids vary in size. Some are only the size of a small pea, and others can grow to be the size of a grape. Hemorrhoids that are inside the rectum are seldom noticed at all, but hemorrhoids that are close to the sphincter can become irritated due to clothing, to sitting or even sleeping postures. There are dozens of home remedies for hemorrhoids, ranging from garlic to sitz baths, but in most cases, a hemorrhoid cream from the drug store will sooth them. Hemorrhoids usually go away by themselves after a week or so but if your discomfort is severe or you feel concerned, talk to your gynecologist or general practitioner.
Why are women likely to get hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are quite common, and they occur for a number of reasons. There are three main reasons:
- Your uterus is putting a lot of pressure on your pelvis. As it grows, you will find that its weight and the weight of your baby is putting subtle pressure on everything below your hips and above your knees. The increased pressure can make the veins swell a great deal, and this can lead to hemorrhoids. This is also why the worst period for hemorrhoids are during the third trimester, when the baby is at its heaviest.
- Hemorrhoids during pregnancy is more common because pregnant women are more likely to experience constipation. During pregnancy, your body releases a lot more progesterone than it did beforehand. The increased progesterone release relaxes your smooth muscles, and that includes the muscles of your digestive tract. These muscles are not working as hard as they can, and that means that food passes through your body much slower. The waste becomes much more solid and less watery than it should be, and when you pass it, it can aggravate the veins of your rectum.
- Progesterone itself is responsible for making the walls of your veins weaker. When they encounter hard waste or are under pressure from straining during bowel movements, you will find that they are much easier to tear, and when they tear or are stressed, they become swollen. Hemorrhoids are very tender, and that means that they are quite prone to being irritated or abraded at the least provocation.
For the most part, hemorrhoids are not serious. For some people, the only indication that they have hemorrhoids is a little bit of itching or a little bit of tenderness in or around their rectum. However, some people experience a great deal of pain from their hemorrhoids. A common symptom of hemorrhoids is blood in your stool, and any pregnant woman may be startled by the sight of blood on toilet paper but if you know that you have hemorrhoids, do not let the sight of a little blood worry you. When you are pregnant, there is no such thing as being too worried and if you do feel concerned, go see your gynecologist. For the most part, hemorrhoids are just an irritating part of pregnancy.
For more information about hemorrhoids during pregnancy, please also see: