Does Stress Cause Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids causing discomfort are almost easy to notice. The exact cause of hemorrhoids can remain a mystery, but it is easy to place the blame on factors like stress.

Can stress cause hemorrhoids? The short answer is yes, though indirectly.

Stress can seriously affect your mental, emotional, and physical health. Hemorrhoids affect 1 in 20 Americans. This translates to 1 in every 20 Americans dealing with the negative feelings associated with hemorrhoids, such as embarrassment, shame, and isolation — all categorized as stress factors.¹

Common physical effects of stress may include stomach pains, insomnia, and chest pains. Is it possible to develop hemorrhoids from stress? Find out more below. 

Have you considered clinical trials for Hemorrhoids?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Hemorrhoids, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.


Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, occur when clusters of veins in your anus or rectum get swollen. When these veins swell, blood pools inside, causing the veins to expand outward into the membrane surrounding your anal and rectal tissues. The result is massive discomfort and pain.

Types of hemorrhoids

There are four types of hemorrhoids:

  1. Internal hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoids are almost invisible since they are located deep inside the anus. Mild hemorrhoids are bumps inside, while severe hemorrhoids form long protrusions. Internal hemorrhoids can be painless, but they do tend to bleed. 

  2. External hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids appear as one or more hard bumps on or around the anus. 

  3. Prolapsed hemorrhoids. Prolapsed hemorrhoids are more severe and painful forms of internal hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoids swell and elongate until they protrude outside the anus. Mild prolapsed hemorrhoids protrude from the anus during straining. However, they instantly retract when you relax your anal muscles. On the other hand, severe prolapsed hemorrhoids remain protruding from the anus. 

  4. Thrombosed hemorrhoids. Thrombosed hemorrhoids are internal or external hemorrhoids in which the blood has pooled inside clots. These hemorrhoids can be extremely painful in external hemorrhoids. 

Stress and hemorrhoids

How are stress and hemorrhoids connected?

Stress doesn’t directly cause or worsen pre-existing hemorrhoids. However, stress can upset your stomach, inducing cramps, diarrhea, or constipation. Severe diarrhea or constipation can lead to hemorrhoids. 

When stressed, your brain sends signals to the stomach, resulting in reactions. Surprisingly, the human brain and gut cross-communicate, thus triggering an irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) flare-up in individuals prone to anxiety and stress. 

The stomach can be naturally wired to respond to stress naturally. In turn, distressed bowels can lead to hemorrhoids. 

Root causes of hemorrhoids

The common causes of hemorrhoids include:

  • A low-fiber diet

  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea

  • Sitting on the toilet for extended periods

  • Straining during bowel movements

  • Lifting heavy objects

  • Pregnancy

  • Weakening of the supporting tissues in your rectum/anus typical of aging

  • Excess weight 

Hemorrhoids triggers

Often, the causes of hemorrhoids can be the same as the risk factors. Common triggers of hemorrhoids include:

  • Constipation

  • Pregnancy

  • A high body mass index

  • Regular heavy lifting

  • Having anal intercourse

  • A low-fiber diet 

Treatment for hemorrhoids

During diagnosis, the doctor might be able to see external hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoid diagnosis may include an examination of your rectum and anal canal. Depending on the outcome of the diagnosis, the doctor may recommend one or different forms of hemorrhoid treatment. You can use different methods to relieve the mild pain, inflammation, and swelling of hemorrhoids. Forms of hemorrhoid treatment include:

  • Eating high-fiber foods. Eating more vegetables, foods, and whole grains softens the stool, helping to avoid the strain that worsens existing hemorrhoid symptoms. 

  • Using topical treatments. Over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams, suppositories containing hydrocortisone, or pads containing a numbing agent/witch hazel are effective home remedies. 

  • Taking oral pain relievers. You can temporarily reduce pain and discomfort by taking ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen.

  • Soaking regularly in warm water. Soak your anal area in plain warm water 2–3 times daily. 

These home remedies can eliminate hemorrhoid symptoms within a week or two.

How to deal with stress and anxiety?

Is your stress affecting your digestion and directly causing hemorrhoids? Stress management is a key factor of survival, and understanding how to deal with stress, and anxiety effectively can help you avoid complications.

Below are effective ways to deal with stress and anxiety:

1. An active lifestyle

Any form of exercise or physical activity can work as a stress reliever. Physical activity increases the production of feel-good hormones, such as endorphins. The result is improved moods. Examples of physical activities to help you deal with stress and anxiety include:

  • Swimming

  • Biking

  • Jogging

  • Walking 

  • Weightlifting

2. Meditation

Meditation allows you to focus your attention and eliminate the thoughts occupying your mind and causing stress. Meditation promotes a state of calm, peace, and balance that is important to your emotional well-being. 

3. Laughter and comedy

Laughter can cool down your stress response, increase your heart rate, and decrease your blood pressure, helping you feel relaxed and calm.

4. Social interactions

When you’re feeling stressed and irritable, your first instinct will likely be to retreat and coil. Though it can be an excellent coping mechanism, it is advisable to reach out to your family and friends. Social interactions can be a good stress reliever since they can provide support, distract you, and help you feel better. 

5. Sleep

Sufficient sleep has been proven to significantly reduce anxiety by enhancing your ability to process stress and react appropriately. In addition, sufficient sleep can boost your mood, outlook, and temperament. 

6. Journal

The ability to organize your thoughts can be a good release for pent-up emotions, stress, and anxiety. Journaling as a stress management mechanism is an effective way to get thoughts off your mind. 

7. Music therapy

Playing or listening to good music can relieve stress since it provides a mental distraction, reduces stress hormones, and decreases muscle tension. 

8. Get professional help

If new sensors challenge your ability to cope with stress and anxiety, you may need to seek reinforcements in the form of counseling or professional therapy. Therapy can help you relieve stress by uncovering the source of the stress and offering new coping mechanisms and tools. 

Hemorrhoids prevention

The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is by keeping your stool soft to allow easy passage. Below are effective tips to prevent hemorrhoids and their symptoms:

  1. Eat high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

  2. Drink plenty of fluids to help keep the stool soft.

  3. Avoid straining and holding your breath whenever passing stool since it creates high pressure in the veins in the lower rectum.

  4. Consider fiber supplements. Over-the-counter supplements, such as methylcellulose (Citrucel) or psyllium (Metamucil), improve overall symptoms and bleeding from hemorrhoids. However, it is important to drink water sufficiently when using fiber supplements since they can cause or worsen constipation. 

  5. Exercise sufficiently. An active lifestyle helps prevent constipation and reduce pressure on the veins resulting from prolonged sitting or standing. Exercise can also help you lose excess weight that can contribute to hemorrhoids. 

  6. Go as soon as you feel the urge. Stool can dry out and get harder to pass if you wait to pass a bowel movement and the urge disappears. 

  7. Avoid prolonged sitting periods. Sitting for long, especially on the toilet, can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus.  

The lowdown

Hemorrhoids can get worse if you’re undergoing stress or anxiety from other life aspects. One of the most common questions among people with hemorrhoids is whether stress can cause hemorrhoids. 

Stress can cause hemorrhoids indirectly. It can affect your stomach, thus inducing severe diarrhea or constipation, which can further cause hemorrhoids. 

Managing your stress can help you prevent hemorrhoids. However, you can also avoid hemorrhoids by making significant lifestyle changes like eating a fiber-rich diet and exercising more. 

Another cause of hemorrhoids is straining during bowel movements and sitting on the toilet for too long. Avoid straining when passing stool or sitting for too long on the toilet. It is imperative that you watch out for possible signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids and visit a doctor immediately if you notice early signs. 

Frequently asked questions

What can trigger hemorrhoids?

Possible hemorrhoid triggers include:

  • Being obese 

  • Being pregnant

  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea

  • Sitting for extended periods on the toilet

  • Straining during bowel movements

  • Regular heavy lifting

  • Eating a low-fiber diet 

Can you get hemorrhoids from depression?

Stress can lead to depression and anxiety, making your hemorrhoids flare up. Fortunately, you won’t get hemorrhoids directly from depression, anxiety, or stress. 

Can anxiety cause hemorrhoids?

Yes, but indirectly. Stress and anxiety can affect your stomach, which can cause severe constipation and diarrhea. Severe constipation and diarrhea can further cause hemorrhoids. 

When should you worry about hemorrhoids?

It is time to talk to a doctor when you’ve experienced persistent pain, discomfort, or itching for an extended period. Some hemorrhoid symptoms may disappear on their own with time. However, some may take a while and can be treated by a doctor.

Have you considered clinical trials for Hemorrhoids?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Hemorrhoids, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

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