A little-known fact is that everybody has hemorrhoids. They are a normal component of the anal and rectum anatomy. However, when your hemorrhoids become symptomatic, you will notice that they exist.
Hemorrhoids that produce symptoms such as pain, itching, and bleeding are more common than you think. An estimated one in 20 Americans has hemorrhoid disease.
This article will explain the following:
What are hemorrhoids and their purposes
How hemorrhoids can become symptomatic
The common symptoms of hemorrhoids
How you can have symptoms of hemorrhoids treated
Does anal sex cause hemorrhoids?
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Hemorrhoids, or piles, are cushion-like tissue made up of blood vessels. The hemorrhoids assist the rectum and anal anatomy in controlling bowel movements and flatulence to prevent unintentional leaking.
During regular bowel movements, hemorrhoids may swell slightly. However, too much pressure on the rectum and anal canal by straining or hard stool, caused by a low-fiber diet, can damage the supporting structures of the hemorrhoids.
The damage causes the hemorrhoids to subsequently elongate, dilate, and engorge. The enlargement of hemorrhoids can happen inside or outside the rectum.
Factors that can cause increased pressure on the anal canal and be risk factors for enlarged hemorrhoids include the following:
Pregnancy and the birth process
Weakening tissue with aging
Excessive straining on the toilet
Sitting for long periods
Damaged hemorrhoids can be located on the inside of the rectum. They're not visible outside but can still present symptoms, such as rectal bleeding. These might be considered the lowest severity grade in problematic internal hemorrhoid classification, a Grade 1.
The severity of enlarged hemorrhoids increases when seen and felt outside the anus. These types of hemorrhoids are called protruding or prolapsed hemorrhoids. However, some can recede back inside on their own, while others can't. This ability makes the difference between the severity of the hemorrhoid being a Grade 2 or a Grade 4.
Grade 2: Enlarged hemorrhoids that may come out of the anus while passing stool but will recede inside on their own.
Grade 3: Enlarged hemorrhoids that come out while passing stool but cannot withdraw back inside on their own. However, they can be physically pushed back inside.
Grade 4: Enlarged hemorrhoids are always outside the anus and cannot be positioned back inside.
Depending on how large the hemorrhoid is will depend on what symptoms you may experience. Some more common symptoms include:
Burning sensation in or around the anus
Rectal bleeding without pain
You will see rectal bleeding from enlarged hemorrhoids as bright red or red either on toilet paper or in the toilet.
The larger the hemorrhoid is, the more severe the symptoms may be.
It feels like something is pushing against the anus
Sitting is uncomfortable
It feels like the bowels aren't totally empty even after using the toilet
Hemorrhoid is very painful
Unintentional leakage of mucus or stool, especially during flatulence
Some enlarged hemorrhoids are not severe enough to have to be treated at all. They may be annoying for a few days but will heal without treatment. More severe enlarged hemorrhoids may have to be treated by adjusting your diet, achieving better bowel movement habits, or applying medications to relieve symptoms.
However, suppose enlarged hemorrhoids are quite severe and present long-lasting, uncomfortable, and painful symptoms. Some doctor-office-based treatments and procedures can also help, which include the following:
Rubber band ligation: The band is placed around the neck of the extra tissue to cause scarring and prevent the hemorrhoids from bleeding or prolapsing again.
Sclerotherapy: Injection of a chemical solution to scar the hemorrhoids and stop the bleeding.
Infrared coagulation: The use of heat to clot veins of the hemorrhoids to cut off the blood supply
Surgical hemorrhoidectomy: This can be the most effective method of removing hemorrhoids, but it is more susceptible to complications.
Hemorrhoids are a natural part of the anatomy. However, anal sex could irritate and produce symptomatic hemorrhoids or possibly cause their recurrence.
Pressure on the rectum and anal canal or unyielding biological matter passing through can produce enlarged or damaged hemorrhoids, injuring the supporting structures of the hemorrhoids. However, there are ways of lessening the risk of symptomatic hemorrhoids while having anal sex and treating them if anal sex irritates the hemorrhoids.
If you are experiencing uncomfortable symptomatic hemorrhoids, anal sex would probably exacerbate that discomfort. So it's probably best to hold off on anal sex until the hemorrhoids heal and the symptoms are gone.
You can prevent hemorrhoid damage before it happens in several ways. Lifestyle changes and diet and food habits can reduce the risk of enlarged, damaged hemorrhoids.
Believe it or not, poor bowel movement habits can contribute to the uncomfortable condition of hemorrhoids. One factor contributing to hemorrhoids is straining too long on the toilet. Hemorrhoids happen because the shape of the typical western toilet seat applies extra pressure on the rectum and anus. This additional pressure can cause the hemorrhoid veins to swell if you sit and strain on the toilet for a long time.
You should be able to spend minimal time, with minimal straining, to complete the bowel movement. Do not participate in any form of entertainment while completing a bowel movement, like reading books or magazines, checking your phone, or watching TV. Just get in and get out.
However, if you have to spend more than a couple minutes excreting stool from your bowels, or if your stools are hard, you may have to change your diet.
Staying hydrated will help you process softer stools faster.
Taking in more fiber is the key to softer and more timely bowel movements. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommends taking 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Here are some foods that can help you reach that goal:
Whole grain bread
Powdered fiber supplements with the key ingredient psyllium will help if you need to supplement your fiber intake.
Many treatments, such as creams, suppositories, medications, and at-home solutions, are available for hemorrhoidal discomfort after anal sex.
Prescription creams containing hydrocortisone can help reduce pain, itching, and swelling. However, steroid-based creams are for intermittent short-term use, i.e., no longer than a week, due to risks of mucosal thinning. In addition, over-the-counter creams like Preparation H combine mineral oil and phenylephrine to relieve hemorrhoidal discomfort.
Prescription suppositories that contain hydrocortisone are also available. In addition, over-the-counter suppositories of 76% cocoa butter and 10% zinc oxide can help temporarily relieve burning, pain, and itching from hemorrhoids aggravated by anal sex. These suppositories can also help provide a comfortable bowel movement.
Some medications that can help relieve symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
Lidocaine blocks the signals at the nerve endings of tissue, eliminating pain.
Bulk-forming laxatives (i.e., fiber) for softer stools
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain and inflammation
Use an anti-inflammatory treatment like witch hazel
Soak in a warm bath for ten to 20 minutes a day.
Use toilet paper with lotion or flushable wet wipes after bowel movements.
Certain conditions can cause hemorrhoids. However, anal sex itself is not likely to cause it, but it can irritate people with existing hemorrhoids. If you are experiencing uncomfortable symptomatic hemorrhoids, anal sex would probably exacerbate that discomfort.
So it's probably best to hold off on anal sex until the hemorrhoids heal and the symptoms are gone.
Some enlarged hemorrhoids are not severe enough and will heal without treatment. More severe hemorrhoids can be treated by changing your diet, developing better bowel movement habits, or applying medications to relieve symptoms.
If you have severe hemorrhoids that haven't gone away in a while, it’s best to consult a doctor.
Hemorrhoids or piles are not contagious, and you cannot spread piles to anybody else through contact.
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