Hemorrhoids are a very common side effect of pregnancy, which can a whole new layer of daily discomfort to a pregnant patient’s life. When a pregnant patient comes to you with hemorrhoids, you need to be prepared to discuss with them why hemorrhoids are more prevalent during pregnancy and their treatment options should the hemorrhoids be severe enough.
Why Do Hemorrhoids Develop During Pregnancy?
If a patient has never developed hemorrhoids in the past, they are more likely to develop them when they’re pregnant and even during labor. Why?
As a pregnancy progresses, the growing uterus, increased production of the hormone progesterone, and constipation will put pressure on the pelvic veins which can cause hemorrhoids to develop. Hemorrhoids will typically go away after delivery, though it may take some time and care.
Treatment Hemorrhoids In Pregnant Patients
The good news is that patients can treat hemorrhoids while they’re pregnant much like they can if they were not:
- Eat a high fiber diet and get plenty of water
- Soak in a warm sitz bath
- Use a cold compress to reduce swelling
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time or sit on a ring cushion
- Have healthy bathroom habits
It is critical to remember to encourage patients to consult with their doctor before taking medications to treat hemorrhoids, like Metamucil or Preparation H. Many times, their doctor will prescribe a hemorrhoid cream or rectal suppository that is safe to use during pregnancy.
What About Treating Severe Cases?
If the hemorrhoid is severe enough, treatments like banding or even a hemorrhoidectomy may be required to resolve the problem. Before treating pregnant women for their hemorrhoids, be sure to assess their symptoms and rule out other conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and ensure that the procedure or surgery will benefit them. Also get a list of any medications they may be taking, either for the hemorrhoids or another condition.
Walk the patient through their diagnosis and discuss their treatment options so they understand the process entails so they will not feel overwhelmed. If treatment is necessary, discuss pre- and post-procedure requirements like eating a high fiber diet, continuing with any medications prescribed, and avoid heavy lifting.