Hemorrhoids are a common condition affecting many people around the world. It is characterized by swollen and inflamed veins in the rectum or anus, which can cause discomfort, pain, and bleeding during bowel movements. While there are many known causes of hemorrhoids, stress has been suggested as a potential contributing factor. But how exactly can stress cause hemorrhoids? 

In this article, we will explore whether stress can cause hemorrhoids and what steps you can take to prevent them.

See, Foods That Cause Constipation and Best High Fiber Foods For Constipation

What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen and inflamed veins in the lower rectum or anus that resemble varicose veins. They often occur when there’s increased pressure in the lower rectum due to various factors, including straining during bowel movements, pregnancy, and more.

They can be quite uncomfortable, often leading to pain, itching, and bleeding during bowel movements. What Is Metamucil Good For?

Types of Hemorrhoids

There are four types of hemorrhoids, and each type has its own symptoms and treatment options.

1. Internal Hemorrhoids

As the name suggests, internal hemorrhoids occur inside the rectum.

They often don’t have symptoms until they become enlarged and prolapsed (when they protrude outside the anus).

Symptoms may include itching, bleeding during bowel movements, and a feeling of fullness or discomfort in the anal area.

Treatment options for internal hemorrhoids include over-the-counter creams or suppositories to help relieve symptoms, as well as procedures like rubber band ligation or sclerotherapy to shrink the hemorrhoid.

2. External Hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids occur on or around the anus and can be seen or felt as a lump under the skin.

They may be painful or itchy and can bleed if irritated by straining during bowel movements.

Treatment for external hemorrhoids mainly involves over-the-counter creams or ointments to reduce swelling and pain.

3. Thrombosed Hemorrhoids

Thrombosed hemorrhoids occur when blood clots form within an external or internal hemorrhoid, often causing pain and bleeding if ulcerated.

In most cases, these will resolve independently within a few days, but some people might need medical intervention.

4. Prolapsed Hemorrhoids

Prolapsed hemorrhoid occurs when an internal hemorrhoid extends out through your anal opening. This may often occur during a strenuous bowel movement, like when you have chronic diarrhea or constipation. It can also occur if the surrounding tissue becomes weak and stretched out.

Sometimes prolapsed hemorrhoids can go back on their own; other times, they must be returned manually, while in other cases, they stay permanently prolapsed.

Can Stress Cause Hemorrhoids?

While there are many factors that can contribute to the development of hemorrhoids, stress has been shown to play a role.

Here’s how too much stress can increase your risk of hemorrhoids.

1. Increased Blood Pressure

When you’re stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This means that your heart rate and blood pressure increase in order to give you more energy to deal with the perceived threat. 

This is fine if it’s a once-in-a-while thing, but if you’re constantly stressed, your body never gets a chance to relax, and your blood pressure stays elevated. Over time, increased blood pressure in the vessels around the anus can cause pooling and inflammation leading to hemorrhoids. The Best Exercise To Lower Blood Pressure.

2. Constipation

When we experience stress, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode. This response releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which help us respond quickly to perceived threats. However, this response can also affect digestion.

The fight-or-flight response diverts blood away from the digestive system towards other parts of the body that need it for fighting or running away from danger. This decrease in blood flow can slow down digestion and cause food to move through the intestines more slowly than usual.

This makes it harder for waste to move through your intestines and out of your body, which can cause stools to become hard and dry, making them more difficult to pass. 7 Common Foods That Cauuse Bloating.

3. Diarrhea

Studies show that psychological stress has a big impact on intestinal sensitivity, motility, secretion, and permeability, which can result in diarrhea. Too much diarrhea can put excessive pressure on your rectal area leading to hemorrhoids.

4. Poor Dietary Habits

Many people tend to reach for unhealthy food options as a coping mechanism when under stress. These foods often lack essential nutrients and fiber needed for healthy bowel movements. 

Eating processed foods high in fat and sugar increases inflammation levels in the body leading to constipation which puts more pressure on the veins around the anus.

Moreover, stressed people may indulge in more alcohol or caffeine, which leads to dehydration, causing hard stools that make it difficult to pass. This further aggravates hemorrhoids making them more painful and uncomfortable. How To Avoid Processed Foods?

5. Reduced Physical Activity

When stressed, finding the motivation and energy to engage in exercise or other forms of physical activity can be challenging.

But the truth remains that reduced physical activity can contribute to hemorrhoids in various ways.

For one, when you don’t move around much, you’re more likely to constipate. And as we now know, constipation is a major factor in developing hemorrhoids. 

Additionally, sitting for long periods of time can put extra pressure on the veins in your anus and rectum—which can also cause hemorrhoids. Who Needs To Exercise?

Other Factors that Contribute to Hemorrhoids                      Constipation

There are a variety of things that can cause hemorrhoids, but one of the most common is constipation. When you are constipated, your stool is hard and dry, and it can be difficult to pass.

This puts a lot of pressure on the veins in your rectum and anus, which can cause them to become swollen and inflamed. 

If you are constantly straining to have a bowel movement, it increases your risk of developing hemorrhoids.

Pregnancy

The extra weight on the pelvis and rectum during pregnancy can cause the veins in these areas to enlarge and engorge.

Additionally, the increased levels of progesterone during pregnancy can also cause these veins to become relaxed and stretched, which can further contribute to the formation of hemorrhoids.

Obesity

Obesity can increase the pressure on the blood vessels in the anal and rectal areas. This extra pressure can cause the vessels to swell and eventually rupture, leading to bleeding. Additionally, obese individuals are more likely to suffer from constipation, which can also lead to hemorrhoids by straining during bowel movements. 

Moreover, being overweight puts you at greater risk of developing anal fissures, which are small tears in the anal canal that can also lead to bleeding. Top 5 Obesity-Causing Foods You Should Avoid

How to Prevent Hemorrhoids from Developing or Worsening

1. Maintain a healthy diet

A healthy diet is important for many reasons, but it can be especially helpful in preventing or alleviating hemorrhoids.

Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods, for example, can help soften stools and reduce constipation, which is a major risk factor for hemorrhoids.

Also, fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation.

Besides what you can eat, avoiding processed foods and excessive amounts of sugar can also reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can also contribute to hemorrhoids. 13 Benefits Of A Healthy Lifestyle

2. Stay hydrated

Dehydration is a major cause of hemorrhoids, so it’s important to make sure you’re staying hydrated throughout the day. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeinated beverages, which can dehydrate you.

And as mentioned above, be sure to also eat plenty of fiber-rich foods. Signs You Aren’t Drinking Enough Water.

3. Exercise regularly

Exercise can help improve your circulation and promote regular bowel movements, both of which can reduce the pressure on your anal area and prevent hemorrhoids from forming.

Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can further reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids.

If you already have hemorrhoids, exercise can still be beneficial. It can help reduce swelling and inflammation while improving your overall recovery time.

However, it is important to avoid any strenuous or high-impact activities that could aggravate your condition. When starting an exercise program, be sure to consult with your doctor first to ensure that it is safe for you to do so. Benefits Of Cardiovascular Exercise

4. Avoid straining during bowel movements

Straining during bowel movements is one of the main causes of hemorrhoids. When you strain, you put extra pressure on the veins in your anus and rectum. This can cause them to become swollen and painful.

There are a few things you can do to avoid straining during bowel movements:

  • Go when you first feel the urge. Don’t wait until later, as this can make stool harder and more difficult to pass.
  • Don’t strain or hold your breath while you’re having a bowel movement. This puts extra pressure on blood vessels in the anal area and can cause them to bulge and bleed.
  • Use a stool softener, if needed, to make stool easier to pass.
  • Try squatting instead of sitting on the toilet. This position takes the pressure off the anal area and may make it easier to have a bowel movement.

5. Practice good personal hygiene

There are a few things you can do to practice good personal hygiene and help prevent hemorrhoids from worsening. First, be sure to clean your anal area thoroughly after each bowel movement. You can do this by using gentle wipes or a moistened cloth. Avoid using dry toilet paper, as it can irritate the skin.

In addition, it is important to wear clean, comfortable underwear and to avoid sitting for long periods of time on hard surfaces. If you must sit for extended periods, try to do so on a doughnut-shaped pillow or other soft surfaces that alleviates pressure on the anal area.

6. Use sitz baths

Sitz baths are a type of bathing in which you sit in warm water for a short period of time. They can be helpful in relieving pain, itching, and inflammation associated with hemorrhoids.

There are two ways to take a sitz bath: either in a special tub designed for the purpose or by using a regular bathtub. If you’re using a regular bathtub, make sure to thoroughly clean it before use.

Fill the tub with warm water and add any additional ingredients that your doctor may have recommended, such as Epsom salt. Sit in the tub for 10-15 minutes, making sure that the affected area is submerged.

Afterward, dry off completely and apply an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream or ointment if desired. You should feel relief from your symptoms after taking a sitz bath. Repeat as needed.

7. Elevate your feet while sitting on the toilet

When we sit on the toilet in a conventional way with our feet on the ground or floor, it causes our body to be at an angle of around 90 degrees.

This position puts pressure on our rectum and anus, making it difficult for us to pass stool without straining. Straining increases abdominal pressure, which leads to increased blood flow to the veins in the anal area causing them to swell up and become painful.

Elevating your feet while sitting on the toilet changes your body’s position by raising your knees above hip level.

This change in angle helps straighten out your rectal canal allowing for easier passage of stool without straining.

When you elevate your feet using a footstool or any other means available, it opens up space between pelvic bones leading to relaxed muscles around the anal sphincter, improving the natural passage of stool without exerting undue pressure.

Tips to Lower Stress Levels

Having seen how stress can cause hemorrhoids, it’s worth learning some tips to help lower your stress levels. These may include:

Final Thoughts

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower rectum or anus. They often occur with frequent straining during a bowel movement. 

Other causes include pregnancy and chronic constipation or diarrhea.

Hemorrhoids may be located inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids), or they may develop under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids).

While stress may not directly cause hemorrhoids, it can contribute to other factors that can result in the condition.

Stress can affect our bodies in numerous ways, including increasing blood pressure and interfering with digestion. All of these factors contribute to the development of hemorrhoids. 

So if you are experiencing symptoms of hemorrhoids, it is important to address both the physical and emotional aspects of your health. 

Managing stress through practices such as exercise, meditation, or therapy can not only prevent the onset of hemorrhoids but also improve your overall well-being.

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