Hemorrhoids and varicose veins may seem unrelated but they are quite similar complications that pregnant women face, especially during the third trimester. Both hemorrhoids and varicose veins are swollen twisted veins. These veins are often formed in the legs but when they are formed in other parts of the body such as the rectum, they are called hemorrhoids.
Veins are normally known to have one-way valves that direct blood flow towards the heart. However, sometimes, pressure or weakening of these valves instead allows blood to go back up and pool in the veins, thereby causing them to enlarge and become varicose veins. For pregnant women, the heavyweight of the growing baby could press on the large blood vessels in the pelvis, thereby causing the smaller veins in the pelvis and legs to swell.
Hemorrhoids on the other hand results when the rectal veins enlarge and swell. The condition can get worst with pushing and straining when constipated. If a woman is overweight or has had a hemorrhoid before, it can get worst during pregnancy. Also, when a woman pushes during delivery, her hemorrhoids likely worsens.
Some pregnant women are more prone to having varicose veins than others. For instance, if it runs in your family, it’s easy for you to also have it during pregnancy. More so, pregnant women who sit or stand in one position for too long may force their veins to work harder to pump blood to their hearts. The result is often swollen varicose veins and it can also aggravate already existing hemorrhoids.
It is worth noting that hemorrhoids can be internal or external, and while internal hemorrhoids always form inside the rectum, external hemorrhoids are often located outside, notably around the opening of the anus. The main symptom of an internal hemorrhoid is bright red blood in stool, whereas external hemorrhoids can be itchy, painful and could easily bleed if irritated by straining or wiping.
The symptoms of varicose veins always appear as large blue veins on the legs. Pregnant women may also experience mild swellings in their legs, feet or ankles and throbbing or a feeling of heaviness in their legs. Leg cramps are also associated with varicose veins.
Hemorrhoids in pregnancy are usually temporal and often go away a few weeks after delivery. Moreover, there are a few things that can help reduce the discomfort caused by this condition. For instance, you could use ice water or cold compresses to reduce the swelling. You can also apply prescribed creams and ointments that are safe to use during pregnancy. In general, the best way to avoid hemorrhoids is to prevent constipation and you can do so by adding lots of fiber and fluids in your diet.