Anyone can get hemorrhoids, but pregnant women are particularly prone to the condition. There are a few reasons hemorrhoids often develop during pregnancy. For example, the pressure the uterus puts on the veins during pregnancy can result in hemorrhoids, as can constipation, which may occur as the result of digestive changes or an increase in iron intake. An increase in the production of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy may also play a role in this problem, as it makes the veins more prone to swelling. The increase in the hormone progesterone may also affect the digestive process and contribute to constipation.
One of the reasons women frequently get hemorrhoids during pregnancy is constipation. Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy and can be brought on by changes in a pregnant woman’s diet, stress, and even consuming a high amount of iron in prenatal vitamins. Hormones may also affect the digestive and elimination processes, contributing to constipation. Pressure placed on the intestines by the expanding uterus may only make matters worse. When a woman becomes constipated, she may strain to go to the bathroom, and the straining may cause hemorrhoids.
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Women may also be more prone to developing hemorrhoids during pregnancy because of pressure the growing uterus places on the body. The uterus exerts increasing pressure on the veins in a woman’s pelvis during pregnancy. It also exerts increasing pressure on a large vein that gets blood from the lower part of the body, which is referred to as the inferior vena cava. As a result of the pressure on these veins, blood flow from the lower portion of a woman’s body may be slower than normal. The veins that are located below the woman’s womb, including those in the anal area, may then become swollen as a result of pressure caused by this change in blood flow.
Hormone changes may also play a significant role in the development of hemorrhoids during pregnancy. For example, an increase in the hormone progesterone makes the veins more prone to swelling. At the same time, it may serve to relax the intestinal muscles and contribute to the development of constipation.
While a woman cannot avoid some of the causes of hemorrhoids during pregnancy, she can take steps to prevent them. For example, a woman may increase her intake of water and fiber to avoid constipation. She may also ask her doctor for a stool softener that is safe for use during pregnancy. Taking one may help her avoid the straining associated with hemorrhoids.