I have so many hemorrhoids I can barely sit down. Will they go away? And how do I make them stop itching?

Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood

Oh, hemorrhoids. Those little demons were my constant companions from month six of pregnancy to six months postpartum. And they still like to come for unwelcome visits every now and then. Their specialties are soreness, itchiness, and embarrassment, and they take great pride in being the ultimate pain in the….They range in size from chickpea to grap

So first off, what are they? They are swollen veins in the lowest area of your rectum, or anus. Internal hemorrhoids often go unnoticed, while external hemorrhoids — swollen lumps poking out of the anus — are constantly saying hi. If a blood clot forms in the hemorrhoid (thrombosis), it will likely turn blue or purple. Often, a bit of blood on your poop is caused by hemorrhoids. These beauties can be caused by the following:

  • The weight of the baby pressing on the rectum
  • Progesterone during pregnancy relaxing the walls of the veins, making them more prone to swelling
  • Heavy-duty pushing when pooping (often a result of constipation) or pushing a baby out
  • Serious exertion when doing something like lifting a heavy object
  • Excess weight

While hemorrhoids usually go away after a few weeks, there will likely be “skin bags” poking out of the anus forevermore. (But they shouldn’t hurt or itch.) And now for some pictures! Just kidding.

What to do

Here’s how to soothe the fury of the hemorrhoid:

Sit on soft surfaces. Soften the impact of sitting by swapping hard surfaces for soft. You can also make a pillow your constant companion.

Ice ’em. Sit on the toilet and hold a piece of ice, or an ice pack, on the hemorrhoids to reduce swelling.

Swap toilet paper for witch hazel wipes. Standard TP usually doesn’t do the trick when trying to wipe away all the poop particles stuck in the crevices of hemorrhoids. So use witch hazel wipes instead. The moisture of these wipes does a better clean-up job, and the witch hazel helps relieve itchiness, pain, and swelling.

Become one with hemorrhoid cream. Many hemorrhoid creams contain lidocaine (Hello, numbness!) and healing ingredients like hydrocortisone, vitamin E, and aloe vera.

Drown them in a warm bath. Soaking in a regular tub or a sitz bath minimizes itchiness, pain, and swelling. You can add Epsom salt or a splash of apple cider vinegar to the water to promote healing.

Load up on fiber, and drink more water. As hemorrhoids can be caused and agitated by constipation, ear fiber-rich foods like avocados, lentils, chickpeas, oats, chia seeds, almonds, pears, raspberries, and of course, prunes. In addition, drink plenty of water, as it helps soften fecal matter and keeps it moving.

Use a footstool when pooping. Propping your feet up on a stool when using the bathroom helps you get into a squatting position, which stimulates the bowels, making it easier to get it all out without too much force.

See your care provider if they’re really bugging you. If the external hemorrhoids seem excessively uncomfortable or are regularly causing rectal bleeding, check in with your care provider.

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