Hemorrhoids are very common complaints during pregnancy. It afflicts 20 to 50 percent of all pregnant women in Minnesota. Pregnancy changes your body in more ways than you might think. Why does pregnancy make women more prone to hemorrhoids? There are several reasons on it.
1. Hemorrhoids are a type of venous disease similar to varicose veins; it is surely not perfect designing in its anatomy and physiology with intrinsic defects.
2. The enlarging uterus plus increased blood flow put pressure on the pelvic veins and other large veins that increases the pressure on the veins and causes them to become more dilated.
3. Constipation is another common problem during pregnancy, which can also aggravate hemorrhoids due to the straining.
4. An increase in progesterone hormone during pregnancy causes the walls of hemorrhoidal veins to relax, allowing them to swell more easily. Moreover, progesterone slows down women’s digestive tract and contributes to constipation.
5. The pushing process involved in labor also makes the existing hemorrhoids worse.
Many women in the Minneapolis and St Paul areas develop the new hemorrhoids during their pregnancy; others have the preexisting hemorrhoids even before they get pregnant. Some women get them in the first pregnant, others get recurrent hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids usually get worse in the third trimester, right after labor pushing or if you develop constipation.
The typical hemorrhoids symptoms during pregnancy are anal itching, rectal bleeding, pain, and bulging out. The good news is that hemorrhoids will begin to improve soon after giving birth.
The most conservative hemorrhoid treatments are usually prescribed for hemorrhoids occurring during pregnancy and soon after childbirth. Local application of over-the-counter ointments, fiber supplements, Sitz bath and cold packs are often sufficient to relieve the symptoms. If the patients develop the hemorrhoid complications, commonly painful thrombosed external hemorrhoids, then the simple surgical procedure with incision and drainage is necessary to remove the blood clots and alleviate excoriating rectal pain. Occasionally, the limited external hemorrhoidectomy is needed in some severe cases.
The patients are encouraged to see hemorrhoid doctors, family physicians or colorectal surgeons for hemorrhoid evaluation in 2-3 months after delivery if they have severe hemorrhoids during pregnancy or the symptoms linger even a few months after giving birth.
The good thing is that minimally invasive hemorrhoid procedures, such as Infrared coagulation (IRC) and banding, can effectively treat most hemorrhoids without cutting or stapling to postpartum women. For the extensive or severe hemorrhoid cases that do not respond to conservative methods, hemorrhoidectomy is needed to remove them completely. Dr. Shu prefers to perform less invasive hemorrhoidectomy, not traditional hemorrhoidectomy, in combination with banding and IRC, The patients usually have good result with quicker recovery with this approach.