What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the area around the anus. They can develop as a consequence of straining during bowel movements, and also during pregnancy, as straining can result from constipation (which may become a problem during pregnancy), and also because increased levels of the hormone progesterone weaken the walls of these veins. Hemorrhoids can bleed and also cause pain.
How common are hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
An estimated 25 35 percent of pregnant women experience hemorrhoids at some point during their pregnancy.
How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?
Diagnosis of hemorrhoids is very straightforward based on your symptoms. Bright red blood from the anus while defecating indicates to the doctor that the bleeding is from right around the anus. If the hemorrhoids are severe, they are typically big enough to protrude from the anus, and the doctor will be able to see this, either from the outside or with an instrument called an anoscope that can look at the veins from inside the anus and lower part of the rectum. Most of the diagnostic work is to grade the severity of the hemorrhoids on a scale of 1 to 4. Grade 1 hemorrhoids are bigger than normal anus veins but produce no symptoms. Grade 2 hemorrhoids are those that prolapse exit from the anus when you bear down in order to defecate, but they go back in when you release the pressure. Grade 3 hemorrhoids remain prolapsed, but they can be pushed back in with a finger. Grade 4 hemorrhoids cannot be pushed back in manually.
Does having hemorrhoids cause problems during pregnancy?
In pregnant women with hemorrhoids, symptoms are generally mild and short-lasting, but there can be flare-ups with pain and bleeding from the anus. This can make you very uncomfortable, affecting your quality of life, even interfering with your activities.
Do hemorrhoids during pregnancy cause problems for the baby?
Hemorrhoids do not cause any direct harm to the baby.
What to consider about taking medications when you are pregnant:
- The risks to yourself and your baby if you do not treat the hemorrhoids
- The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are pregnant
- The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are breastfeeding
What should I know about using medication to treat hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
Medications, which are given to treat symptoms of hemorrhoids and provide short-term relief, consist of analgesics (pain killers) and anti-inflammatory agents, including corticosteroids. These medications are topical, meaning they are applied directly to the area in and around the anus. They are not ingested, so they present no potential danger to the baby.
Who should NOT stop taking medication for hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
As noted above, medications are applied topically and do not get into your system enough to be a safety issue for the baby. Consequently, there is no reason for stopping them.
What should I know about choosing a medication for my hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
You may find Pregistrys expert reports about the individual medications to treat hemorrhoids here. Additional information can also be found in the sources listed at the end of this report.
What should I know about taking a medication for my hemorrhoids when I am breastfeeding?
Medications given to treat symptoms of hemorrhoids and provide short-term relief are analgesics (pain killers) and anti-inflammatory agents, including corticosteroids. These medications are topical, meaning they are applied directly to the area in an around the anus. They are not ingested, and so they present no potential danger to a nursing infant.
What alternative therapies besides medications can I use to treat my hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
The principal treatments for hemorrhoids consist of increasing the amount of fiber in your diet, increasing your liquid consumption, and adding stool softeners when needed. Modification of toilet habits also can be helpful. When hemorrhoids are high grade or otherwise severe, there are surgical options, such as sclerotherapy, cryotherapy, and surgical ligation.
What can I do for myself and my baby when I have hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
Improve your dietary fiber intake and liquid intake, and follow your doctors advice.
Resources for hemorrhoids in pregnancy:
For more information about hemorrhoids during and after pregnancy, contact http://www.womenshealth.gov/ (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446]) or read the following articles: