Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
The symptoms of hemorrhoids during pregnancy are similar to those experienced by women who are not pregnant. They are based on the type of hemorrhoid that develops.
The most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids is bright-red blood covering the stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl.
Other symptoms may include feeling:
- Vague anal discomfort
- Fullness after a bowel movement.
Pain is not a common symptom.
Unlike internal hemorrhoids, which are usually not painful, external hemorrhoids can be quite painful. Additional symptoms may include:
- Anal itching.
It is important to tell your healthcare provider if you experience what you think are hemorrhoids because other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Your healthcare provider will be able to look for these conditions and recommend treatment based on what is found.
In most cases, treatment for hemorrhoids during pregnancy is focused on:
- Relieving symptoms
- Relieving pressure within the hemorrhoidal veins by increasing fiber and fluids
- Modifying bowel habits.
Specific treatment options may include:
- Ice packs (for external hemorrhoids) applied for 10 to 15 minutes three or four times a day.
- Warm baths four or five times a day for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Increased fluids and fiber in the diet.
- Stool softeners. These are often combined with prenatal vitamins, but you do not want your system to become reliant on them.
- Over-the-counter creams and ointments to help with itching or inflammation. Ask your healthcare provider which brands are safe during pregnancy.
- A compress soaked in witch hazel.
- A pain reliever such as Tylenol®.
In addition, your healthcare provider may suggest a bulk stool softener or a fiber supplement, such as psyllium (Metamucil®) or methylcellulose (Citrucel®). It's best to avoid laxatives during pregnancy.
It is also important to set aside a certain time each day to have an unhurried bowel movement without vigorous wiping or rubbing. Patting, using a soft, moist pad (or even rinsing in the shower), can be used as an alternative to wiping. Make sure to avoid straining during any bowel movement or lingering on the toilet for long periods.