Hemorrhoids aren't just a literal pain in the rear, but metaphorical as well! They'll make your life hella uncomfortable any time you sit down. But do you know what they are or how they're caused?
Interestingly enough, hemorrhoids are actually MEANT to be present around your anus. They are sort of like cushions that help you with your stool control. If they are damaged, they may become red, swollen, or inflamed. They may be accompanied by bleeding, not to mention a whole lot of pain when you sit down to use the bathroom.
Sadly, the exact cause of hemorrhoids isn't well known. There are a few factors that can increase the risk of your developing hemorrhoids, such as intra-abdominal pressure (the exertion when you use the bathroom counts!). Constipation is one of the worst culprits, as it forces you to push extra hard when your intestines are blocked.
But what can you do to avoid hemorrhoids? We've got a few of the easiest tricks to help you prevent and avoid them at all costs. They can stop you from experiencing this horrible pain in your butt and make your "happy poopy bathroom fun time" a whole lot less excruciating.
Good news: preventing hemorrhoids is a lot easier than you might think!
1 Get More Roughage
Pregnant women are more susceptible to hemorrhoids for two reasons:
- Increased blood flow to the pelvic area enlarges the veins in the rectal wall.
- Constipation forces you to strain, which increases the risk of the blood vessels bursting
Fiber is responsible for softening your stool, making it easier for you to poop without having to strain so hard. If you are suffering from hemorrhoids, you can be pretty sure that it had something to do with pushing too much when using the restroom. Thanks, constipation!
To avoid constipation, add A LOT more roughage to your diet--at least 30 to 40 grams, according to WedMD. Vegetables make a nifty addition to any meal. Not only will they add more fiber (to soften your stool), but they are an excellent source of all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed to have a healthy digestive system.
Fruit should also play a part in your life. Prunes and plums in particular deserve their place on your menu. They can help to fill your digestive system with fiber, reduce the strain on your intestines, and even help the muscles in your intestines push the stool out more efficiently.
Finally, you need more whole grains and legumes. Beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, and barley are just a few of the awesome foods you should be eating more of. They are LOADED with healthy fiber--both the soluble fiber that stores water and the insoluble fiber that acts like steel wool to clean out your insides. The more roughage you eat, the healthier your digestive system and the less likely you'll be to strain when using the toilet.
2. Exercise More
Did you know that exercise plays a part in healthy digestion? It may sound silly, but the truth is that exercise keeps your colon regular, and will ensure that you hit the bathroom at a fairly consistent time every day.
See, exercise causes the food you eat to move through your digestive system more quickly, reducing the amount of water absorbed by your body. Less water absorbed from the food means softer, more liquid stools that are easy to pass. Plus, exercise stimulates your intestinal muscles to contract, naturally pushing the food out the waste disposal exit!
As a bonus, doing exercise that strengthens your core muscles will give you increased pushing power next time you sit down to poop. Just make sure not to push too hard, as that's how those little blood vessels burst and turn into hemorrhoids.
The best exercise to prevent hemorrhoids?
- - Jogging/running
- - Yoga
- - Stretching
- - Pilates
- - Swimming
- - Dancing
- - Any aerobic exercise
Note: For those who have a history of hemorrhoids, it's better to avoid excessive exercise. Strength training can cause hemorrhoids to form if you aren't careful!
Did you know there are some bad exercises habits that actually make it harder for you to digest? This might sound crazy, but these habits inhibit your digestive system and make it harder for you to create smooth stool and easy pushing when you need it. Apparently when you tighten your stomach and hold your breath while exercising, this stops the oxygen from flowing to all the parts of your body you need it. Including your digestive system.
Your digestive system uses oxygen to move your digestive muscles, without the proper amount of oxygen needed, your muscles won't work properly, making it harder for your body to expel the waste it creates and causes blockage in your intestines. So remember to breath properly when you exercise by allowing your diaphram to rise and drop normally. If this doesn't happen, then you're not getting the proper amount of oxygen.
3. Drink More
It's amazing how few people actually drink enough water throughout the day. You may be too busy to remember to hit the water cooler, or you drink so much juice, soda, coffee, and tea that you're not really thirsty. And even though your drinking, water is what your body needs to detoxify and make your stool smoother. Without the proper amount of water, your stool will be harder and therefore, harder to eliminate.
How can you tell if you're drinking enough water? Easy! The next time you hit the bathroom, take a look at the color of your pee. If it's a bright yellow, it's a sign that you may not be drinking enough water. The more water you put in your body, the lighter and whiter your urine. The proper color of urine is a lemonade color, not quite see through, but enough of a yellow tinge to know that you've gone number one.
When you don't drink enough water, your risk of constipation is greatly increased. After all, constipation sets in when your body absorbs TOO MUCH water from the food you eat. This usually only happens when you are sick or when your body senses that it's not getting enough liquid from other sources. To reduce your risk of constipation--and thereby your risk of hemorrhoids--it's time to add more water to your life.
Try to drink at least 3 to 5 liters of water per day to ensure that you're staying properly hydrated and healthy! By drinking this much, you give your body the water it needs, stopping it from pulling too much from the food you eat and drying out your stools.
4. Take a Fiber Supplement
Fiber is found in all the natural foods that are good for you. Fruits and especially vegetables are high in fiber content. But some people just can't stand the thought of eating more fruits and veggies. Whether it's about time, money, or the fact that you don't like veggies, you may end up suffering as a result of insufficient fiber intake.
Thankfully, there are supplements that can help you deal with that problem .Psyllium husk and Metamucil are just a few of the supplements you can take to get more fiber in your diet. You might want to also consider laxatives to reduce the straining as you use the bathroom. For those suffering from chronic constipation, they may be an option.
However, be VERY careful when taking supplements. Fiber supplements can loosen your stools excessively, leading to diarrhea--which can in turn lead to dehydration. Taking laxatives for too long may cause your body to become dependent on them, which means your intestinal muscles won't work as efficiently without them.
You want to avoid this problem at all costs, so try to find laxatives that work with your intestinal muscles to contract and move the waste along. Consider osmotic laxatives, as they increase the amount of water in your gut and can help you deal with constipation in a more natural way! And ALWAYS follow the dosage on the supplements to avoid taking too much.
If you're not sure whether laxatives are safe to use during pregnancy, a sk your doctor and let him know if you're having trouble with the number two. He might be able to prescribe you something, or give you diet tips to improve your bowel movements.
5. Use the Bathroom Like a Pro
No one likes to talk about what goes on in the bathroom, how much time they spend in there, or what they do when they sit on the toilet. But these toilet habits can actually cause some problems for us outside of diet and exercise.
How do you approach your time in the bathroom? Do you bring your phone to play games, or do you read books? Too much time spent on the toilet can increase the risk of straining your bowel muscles. Plus, the time you spend sitting strains the blood vessels around your anus--the ones that can burst and turn into hemorrhoids. Get in there, get your business done, and get the heck out of there!
If you feel the need to use the bathroom, go. Don't force yourself to use the toilet if you don't need to, but don't hold it in for too long either--the results can be equally disastrous. As you are sitting there, don't push too hard. Relax, take your time, and let your body do its thing. You can always get up and come back later if things aren't happening at the moment.
Note: If, after 5 minutes, nothing happens, get up. Sitting in this position for too long can cause hemorrhoids to form!
Do NOT hold your breath when using the restroom. You may feel the need to hold your breath when pushing hard, but that will just increase the intra-abdominal pressure and thus the chance that hemorrhoids will form. Breathe naturally and let things happen the right way!
And if you find yourself bunged up for more than a day or two, it might be time to break out the fiber supplements or take a laxative to get things moving again. The most important thing to remember is not to strain yourself, push too hard and don't linger on the toilet. It's not the place to play Candy Crush.
6. Change Your Lifestyle
Do you spend a lot of time sitting? You'll find that too much time sitting decreases the strength of your gluteal muscles, but that can also lead to excess pressure placed on the blood vessels in your anus. The risk of those blood vessels bursting is much higher when you spend a lot of time on your butt. For this reason, it's wise to get up and walk around at least once per hour if you spend more than 6 hours per day sitting.
Funny Fact: People once believed that sitting on a cold sidewalk could cause hemorrhoids. The opposite is true! Cold helps the veins to retreat into the body, reducing the risk of them expanding and bursting. Only the "sitting" part can lead to hemorrhoids thanks to the pressure that is placed on the vessels.
If you're the kind of guy or gal who often develops hemorrhoids, it's probably best to avoid lifting very heavy things. Lifting heavy objects increases the pressure in your abdomen, increasing the chance that you'll blow a blood vessel. If you must lift, make sure to exhale as you exert. Never hold your breath when lifting objects.
For pregnant mothers worried about hemorrhoids, try sleeping on your side. This will reduce the pressure on all of the blood vessels in your pelvic region. Less pressure on the blood vessels means a reduced chance of the vessels bursting, meaning it will be far less likely that you will develop hemorrhoids.
There are many people out there with office jobs that keep them tied to a chair pretty much, so if this describes your work experience you need to remember to get up and visit the water cooler from time to time. the water will help your bowels create stool that's easier to expel, the exercise and movement is better for you too. If you have time after work, you should go for a walk around your neighborhood, even if it's only for a little while. Walking is great exercise for pregnant women and their bowels.
7. Your Stool Consistency
This might seem like something only guys talk about, but it's actually really important to your overall health, and especially in avoiding hemorrhoids. As we've been discussing here, your ability to produce a stool that is easily passed through your system is important in preventing hemorrhoids in the first place.
It's been well established that water is important to your ability to eliminate waste, and that's because your poop is 75% water. Not enough water means a tougher consistency that is a harder form and not easily passed through your bowels.
Diet is important as well. A high fiber diet means that your waste will be easier to pass because fiber doesn't break down, some fiber actually becomes extra water in your system, which as we discussed above is essential for creating the perfect poop. Fiber makes your feces bigger and softer, and therefore, easier to eliminate. So get some bran muffins right now!
Another thing to consider is what exactly you're eating. A diet that is too high in fat can cause your stool to be pebble like because it doesn't have the essential nutrients and particles that make fecal matter stick together. This type of diet might make a person have to make multiple trips to the bathroom, or maybe even bung them up. Your digestive system is quite sensitive.
If you're not sure what type of stool is the best to have, there is a chart for that. The Bristol Stool Chart has a list of stool types that can give you an idea of what is going on with your poop. It will also tell you what type of stool is common and how often you should be eliminating.
While you might find looking at your poop in the toilet gross, it can actually tell you everything you need to know about your diet, and what you could be doing to make the right kind of feces. When you're creating a smooth log shaped or "S" shaped stool, you've got a healthy diet. These types of stool should be easy to pass. If these types are a problem for you, talk to your doctor immediately, you might have another medical issue that needs attention.