What is the connection between pregnancy and hemorrhoids?
Experiencing hemorrhoids during pregnancy is extremely common — but it’s a problem that many women don’t know how to deal with or are reluctant to seek medical help for. As early as six weeks into pregnancy, a woman’s uterus begins to slowly enlarge. This means that everything else within the abdominal cavity is shifted around throughout the pregnancy, putting additional pressure on the woman’s body. Specifically, the inferior vena cava, a large, main vein, is affected.
As blood flow is restricted to the areas below the uterus, the anal cavity is also affected. Without regular blood flow, the blood vessels will alternately swell and dilate, weakening the anal cavity and potentially allowing for hemorrhoids. 90% of women will experience hemorrhoids to some degree either during or after their pregnancy.
Pregnant women should take active steps to prevent and reduce hemorrhoids, but it isn’t possible to prevent them all the time. For women who do get pregnancy hemorrhoids, there are some natural remedies available.
Why are natural remedies for hemorrhoids important for pregnant women?
Pregnancy can already be extremely uncomfortable — no one wants to have to deal with hemorrhoids, too! But many women are very reluctant to seek treatment for their hemorrhoids. Some may be embarrassed to bring it up with their doctor, but most women are simply concerned that treatments could affect their fetus. Many pregnant moms are already doing things like avoiding caffeine and watching their diet, so adding pills and unnecessary supplements could concern them. This is why natural remedies are so incredibly important to expectant mothers.
It isn’t always known what effects a medication will have on a fetus. There have been many cases in which medications did not seem to have any perceived effect on a fetus until many years later, when developmental delays and other issues surfaced. Sometimes the chance of something happening could be so low that the correlation isn’t noticed — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly dangerous. For that reason, it’s always best for pregnant women to avoid medications as much as possible.
Natural remedies are far gentler than conventional medication. They are comprised of foods, nutrients and other resources that people commonly consume — not unnatural medications that may not have even existed before. As a consequence, they have far less of a likelihood of affecting a fetus. However, it should be noted that just because something is natural doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe — alcohol and tobacco are both natural products. Natural remedies are more likely to be safe, but they still need to be run by a physician before being used.
What contributes to hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
In addition to your uterus expanding, there are some other issues that can affect the severity of your pregnancy hemorrhoids. A low-fiber diet may exacerbate the problem, as will being dehydrated. To either prevent or reduce hemorrhoids, increase the amount of fiber you eat and drink water throughout the day. If you experience constipation, you should attempt a natural remedy (such as yogurt) to relieve the constipation before it potentially causes or increases the severity of your hemorrhoids. You should never have to strain to use the bathroom while you are pregnant; if you are, you may need to adjust your diet.
8 completely natural remedies for hemorrhoids
- Witch Hazel – Witch hazel is a common natural remedy. Holistic doctors suggest using witch hazel ointments, compresses, and soaked wipes instead of toilet paper. Witch hazel can be purchased at any natural goods store or directly from a naturopathic physician.
- Sitz Baths – Sitz baths can be purchased in the medical supply section of any drug store. Mix them with warm water and then lower yourself into the water for about ten to fifteen minutes. Repeat this process at least a few times a day. You may wish to alternate the Sitz bath with a cold compress for further relief.
- Butcher’s Broom – Butcher’s broom is a plant that has been used throughout history for blood flow issues. Since hemorrhoids are, at their core, a blood flow issue, Butcher’s broom can be quite effective. You can find them as oral supplements or as a tea. Consider using Butcher’s broom in conjunction with other topical treatments.
- Bioflavoid Supplements – Bioflavoid is a plant compound found in citrus fruits. It has been proven to reduce bleeding in acute hemorrhoid flare-ups. You can get bioflavoids as supplements and you can also eat citrus fruits.
- French Maritime Pine Bark Extract – This extract is a combination of compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. It can be purchased as a supplement.
- Fiber Supplements – As noted, fiber is extremely important. If you aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet, you can use drugstore products such as Metamucil to avoid constipation.
- Zinc Oxide, Petroleum Jelly, Vitamin E, and Coconut Oil – These products are all at-home remedies that provide topical relief. They lessen damage to the skin and reduce itching.
- Ice – Sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer. Ice or cool compresses will reduce the inflammation of your hemorrhoids — even if only temporarily. You can use ice and cold compresses as necessary. This will both give you physical relief and lessen the severity of the problem.
The above natural remedies can be used together to help women manage hemorrhoids during pregnancy without any harm to their fetus. However, it doesn’t replace medical advice. If you are experiencing pregnancy hemorrhoids or wish to prevent them, you should consult with your doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask! This is a very common problem that most women will experience during their pregnancy, or following the birth of their child.