Many women experience hemorrhoids for the first time during pregnancy. In general, it is common for women to develop varicose veins in various parts of their body including the rectal area when they are pregnant. Hemorrhoids during pregnancy is often due to the increased amount of blood circulating in the body causing the veins to swell, fluctuating hormonal levels, and constant constipation.
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy is common because the growing uterus puts additional pressure on the veins that support the pelvis and the inferior vena cavaó the large vein found on the right side of the body that receives blood from the lower limbs. The blood circulation slows down when it returns from the lower half of the body and thus increases the pressure on the veins below the uterus and in turn causes them to be swollen or dilated.
During pregnancy, there is an increase in progesterone levels in the body which may relax or soften the cellular walls of the veins, causing the veins to function improperly and collapse, ultimately leading to hemorrhoids. Increased progesterone also slows down the intestinal tract which contributes to constipation, a leading cause of hemorrhoids.
It is common for pregnant women to experience constipation during pregnancy, making it hard for them to move bowels. Constant straining during bowel movement often leads to hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids in pregnant women vary in severity and size; some may be as small as a raisin while others can grow quite large when left untreated. Others may simply be itchy while others can be painful or cause rectal bleeding. An inflamed or swollen mass tissue that protrudes through the anus, especially during bowel movement, is usually a sign of hemorrhoids.
While hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy, not all pregnant women will necessarily experience them. Women who've had hemorrhoids prior to pregnancy are more likely to have them again while pregnant. Others develop hemorrhoids during the second stage of labor because of the constant pushing and straining.
Hemorrhoids will often go away on their own (after pregnancy or during). Some use medications after pregnancy to treat hemorrhoids faster. There are natural ways of relieving or treating hemorrhoids, generally considered safe for pregnant women. Some of these include applying ice packs to the affected area at various times of the day to decrease swelling and discomfort. Some saturate cold compresses with witch hazel to gain additional relief. Soaking one's bottom in a sitz bath is also very helpful in easing pain. Alternating cold and warm treatments (cold compress and warm sitz bath, for example) is also a popular method for treating hemorrhoids. Pregnant women can ask their physician to recommend a safe topical ointment or suppository if they suffer from severe cases of hemorrhoids. Most of these medical treatments should be used only for a week or less or they may cause even more inflammation.
Although pregnant women are susceptible to getting hemorrhoids, there are still some ways for them to decrease the likelihood of developing it. The best way is to eat a high-fiber diet, drink plenty of water and to get regular exercise (that is recommended safe for pregnant women). As always, it is still best to consult your physician.