What can I do to treat hemorrhoids during pregnancy?

Answers from Roger W. Harms, M.D.

Hemorrhoids are painful, swollen veins in the anus and rectum. To ease the pain of hemorrhoids during pregnancy:

  • Soak in warm water. Fill the tub with plain warm water and soak several times a day.
  • Try witch hazel. Soak cotton pads with the astringent witch hazel and apply to your anal area. Change the pads frequently. Witch hazel is available over-the-counter at most pharmacies.
  • Use ice. Apply ice packs or cold compresses to your anus several times a day to help relieve swelling.
  • Keep your anal area clean. Pre-moistened wipes may be more comfortable than dry toilet paper. Choose brands that don't contain perfumes or alcohol — or use medicated wipes made specifically for people who have hemorrhoids.
  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Sitting puts pressure on the veins in your anus and rectum. When you can, lie on your side or stand up. If you must sit, take frequent breaks.
  • Try an over-the-counter hemorrhoid remedy. Ask your health care provider to recommend a hemorrhoid cream that's safe to use during pregnancy. Remember, though, hemorrhoid creams don't cure the underlying condition — they simply soothe the pain of existing hemorrhoids.

Keep in mind that constipation contributes to hemorrhoids during pregnancy. To relieve or prevent constipation:

  • Include adequate amounts of fiber in your diet
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Ask your health care provider about fiber supplements and stool softeners

If these suggestions don't help or your hemorrhoids get worse or begin to bleed, consult your health care provider. He or she might recommend prescription medication. Hemorrhoids typically resolve after delivery. If the hemorrhoids persist, surgical treatment might be recommended.

Nov. 10, 2011 See more Expert Answers