Hemorrhoids, also referred to as piles, can be defined as varicose veins (swollen painful veins) of the anal canal or rectum . Being one of the most common pregnancy symptoms, it affects around 50% of all pregnant women . Although some women may develop the symptom in the first or early second trimester, it is not considered a sign of pregnancy as it is more common in the third trimester .
Despite being quite harmless , the condition can be quite annoying to extremely painful, making it difficult to carry on with your daily routine. They can be classified into two types depending on the location of the swelling – internal and external hemorrhoids. The internal hemorrhoids are usually painless, causing mild discomfort and bleeding during bowel movements . In more severe cases, the swollen veins may protrude in clusters around the rectum, leading to symptoms like:
Internal hemorrhoids are not visible unless extreme swelling causes them to protrude out of the anus. External swelling in the veins causes them to resemble a cluster of skin-colored rubbery lumps. However, thrombosed hemorrhoids usually have a bluish or purplish color due the presence of blood clots in the affected blood vessels .
There are several factors believed to be responsible for a higher incidence of hemorrhoids in pregnant women, with the possible causes being:
The condition may aggravate during these nine months for those with chronic hemorrhoids, while women with a history of hemorrhoids in a previous pregnancy are also more likely to get them in a subsequent one .
Some women may develop the problem after labor and childbirth due to the extreme pressure of pushing during delivery [http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/hemorrhoids-cause].
In most cases, the swollen veins shrink back to their normal size after your baby is born, as the blood volume and hormone levels go down gradually after delivery .
Post-pregnancy hemorrhoids usually go away on their own within 2 to 4 weeks, or even sooner with proper care.
There are many pregnancy-safe topical OTC creams, ointments (e.g. Preparation H, Anusol), suppositories and sprays available for treating hemorrhoids. Medicated pads infused with witch hazel or astringent lotions can help as well . These are often recommended for curing the problem after pregnancy. However, pregnant women should consult their doctor before using them to ensure the safety of the baby.
Severe cases may call for medical procedures liker rubber band ligation or removing the hemorrhoid by infrared light, laser or freezing [23, 17]. In a rubber band ligation, the doctor ties a band around the base of the enlarged vein before surgically removing the blood clots .
A surgical procedure called hemorrhoidectomy, involving removal of the hemorrhoid under local anesthesia, may be necessary in some rare cases .
Consider contacting your health care provider in case of excessive or recurring rectal bleeding as it may indicate serious complications like an ectopic pregnancy or some life-threatening disorders such as colon cancer [7, 17].
Its ICD-9 code is 455 , while the ICD-10 code used for the condition in K64.8 .