It’s a timeless question asked by patients and the source of internet myths: Is one gender is more prone to developing hemorrhoids than the other?
While there are a variety of reasons a woman may get more hemorrhoids than a man or vice versa, to say that one gender is more prone to develop hemorrhoids is both misleading and gives the impression that hemorrhoids are a gender-specific issue. This impression can cause embarrassment in patients and prevent them from seeking treatment.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
To begin, it is vital to understand what hemorrhoids are and how they form. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum and are caused by several factors, including:
- A low fiber diet
- Straining while using the toilet
- Sitting for long periods of time
- Improperly lifting heavy objects
Hemorrhoids affect 75% of adults in their lifetime and can be internal (inside the rectum) or external (around the anus).
Both Age & Gender Can Affect the Chances of Hemorrhoids Developing
It should be pointed out that both a person’s gender and age can affect a their chances of developing hemorrhoids. For example, as we get older the connective tissues that hold and support the veins in our anus and rectum can weaken and cause hemorrhoids to form.
Hemorrhoids can also affect women more than men in that they are very common during pregnancy. However, hemorrhoids are also extremely common in men in that sitting for long periods of time, improperly lifting heavy objects, or straining while on the toilet can cause them to form.
It is important to note that while hemorrhoids do not typically affect one gender more than the other, women are more prone to report the presence of hemorrhoids to their doctors than men, but tend to receive less treatment for hemorrhoids.
Regardless of age, gender, or circumstance, there are several ways patients can help prevent hemorrhoids from developing in the first place:
- Exercising regularly
- Drinking enough water
- Getting plenty of fiber
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Having healthy bathroom habits, like not straining or sitting on the toilet for longer than 5 minutes.
These tips will also help women who are pregnant minimize the chances of getting hemorrhoids, but it should never be assumed that they will prevent them altogether. Other factors, like the expanding uterus and giving birth, puts pressure on the veins which can cause hemorrhoids to form. If a pregnant patient is concerned about hemorrhoids, discuss their treatment options and how they are safe for pregnancy.