I’m currently eight months pregnant with my third child and everything’s going great except for a little problem that’s decided to rear its ugly head again. Yep, that’s right haemorrhoids.
The pressure of the baby weight on my nether regions is getting too much and so now my backside is taking the brunt. Charming isn’t it? Just one of the many perks of motherhood that I’m no stranger to (I’ve written about post-birth ‘roid rage’ and parenthood surprises before).
Super embarrassing, it’s no wonder no one wants to talk about haemorrhoids (also known as piles). Yet, 20-50% of all pregnant women will get them, along with around half of the general male and female population by age 50. Yippee! Being a human is fun.
Watch: The pregnancy questions you were too afraid to ask. Post continues after video…
If you’ve never had them before then you’re probably pretty clueless about what the hell they are. I’ll tell you from experience – they suck. Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent and treat them though. Let me answer all your questions with a roid rundown:
So, what are they exactly?
Haemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels in the rectum or anus, a bit like varicose veins. There are three different types: internal – painless with some bleeding; external – skin lumps around the anus that are usually painless; and prolapsed – very painful, sensitive swollen veins that hang out of the anus as lumps and often bleed. Ouch indeed.
How common are they?
Despite being rarely discussed in public, Dr. Daria Fielder, General Practitioner at Sapphire Family Medical Practice, Bondi Junction; sees at least one case of haemorrhoids every few days. “Typically I see them in women. It may have to do with the fact that women are much more likely to seek and help and present to the doctor,” she says.
How do you get them?
According to Dr. Fielder, the main reason for haemorrhoids occurring is prolonged straining on the toilet as a result of constipation. For me personally though, I unfortunately have inherited a hereditary proneness to them which was kick-started by that stupid undies craze in the late 90s and noughties – g-strings. Now as an adult, pregnancy and child birth is the main culprit, although sometimes being really rundown and stressed can bring them on too.
Here are the most common causes:
• Constipation and straining on the toilet
• Pregnancy, due to excess weight and pressure on the bowels
• Hereditary factors
• Traumatic, prolonged second stage labour – pushing phase especially if haemorrhoids are already present
• Heavy lifting or heavy manual labour
Additional haemorrhoidal causes or aggravators can be chronic diarrhoea, being overweight or elderly, anal intercourse, stress, poor immunity, G-strings or other irritating underwear, rough toilet paper, and either standing or sitting (especially on hard surfaces) for long periods of time.
Yikes, how do I stop them?
As constipation is by far the main cause for most people it’s therefore essential to address your diet. Dr. Fielder recommends plenty of fibre, vegetables, fruit and water; and for those already constipated, also a fibre supplement to encourage soft, regular stools that are easy to pass without straining.