Varicose Veins

How to deal with hemorrhoids and varicose veins during pregnancy

Written by Dr. Himanshu Chaudhary (Gynaecologist)179 Views

Hemorrhoids and varicose veins might seem to be two different, unrelated problems, but they are actually quite similar. And, many women, especially those in the third trimester of pregnancy, have them. Both hemorrhoids and varicose veins can be defined as swollen, twisted veins. These veins can often be spotted in the legs, but they also can form in other parts of your body. When they form in the rectum, they are called hemorrhoids.

What causes hemorrhoids and varicose veins in pregnancy?

Normally, veins have one-way valves to help keep blood flowing toward the heart. Pressure or weakening of these valves allows blood to back up and pool in the veins. This causes them to enlarge and swell. Hemorrhoids result when rectal veins enlarge. Varicose veins occur when veins of the legs swell. Many changes in pregnancy can increase the risk of hemorrhoids and varicose veins, such as:

  • Increased blood volume, which enlarges the veins
  • The heavy weight of the growing baby, which presses on the large blood vessels in the pelvis, altering blood flow
  • Hormone changes affecting blood vessels, which can slow the return of blood to the heart and cause the smaller veins in the pelvis and legs to swell
  • Hemorrhoids can get worse with pushing or straining, especially with constipation. Being overweight and having hemorrhoids before pregnancy can also make them worse. Pushing during delivery tends to worsen hemorrhoids, too.
  • Varicose veins tend to run in families. Sitting or standing in one position for a long time may force the veins to work harder to pump blood to the heart. This can result in swollen, varicose veins and can also worsen existing hemorrhoids.

How are hemorrhoids and varicose veins in pregnancy treated?

Hemorrhoids in pregnancy are a short-term problem, and they get better after your baby is born. Still, there are some things you can do to relieve the discomfort:

  • To relieve pain, sit in a tub or take bath several times a day in plain, warm water for about 10 minutes each time.
  • Use ice packs or cold compresses to reduce swelling.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about creams or other medicines, such as stool softeners, that are safe to use during pregnancy.
  • It’s important to prevent constipation by including lots of fiber and fluids in your diet.
  • Also, try not to strain with bowel movements, and avoid sitting for a long time. Regular exercises, which involve squeezing and relaxing the muscles in your vaginal and rectal area, can help improve muscle tone.
  • Most varicose veins that develop during pregnancy get better within the first year after birth. But for now, limit your standing or sitting for a long time without a break, and try not to cross your legs. Also try to raise your legs and feet whenever you’re sitting or lying down.
  • Avoid tight clothing around your waist, thighs, and legs, as it can worsen varicose veins.

Be sure to check with your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen or you have excessive bleeding from hemorrhoids. And, remember that these problems are usually short-term and get better after delivery with time and treatment.

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