Most women know what to expect as their bodies change during pregnancy—nausea, weight gain, fatigue. But there’s another common side effect that isn’t as openly discussed—hemorrhoids. Dr. C. Stone Mitchell, Medical Director at Premier Surgical Associates Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Knoxville, says, “We see a lot of pregnant women and we reassure them that developing hemorrhoids while pregnant is very typical.”
He explains that the two or three inches inside the anus is the “hemorrhoid venous plexus”. Over time, anything that increases pressure on the veins— such as pregnancy, coughing, constipation, or lifting heavy objects—causes the plexus to swell, which is defined as a hemorrhoid.
Hemorrhoids typically range from the size of a pea to the size of a grape and can be inside the rectum (internal) or protrude through the anus (external). They may be itchy and mildly uncomfortable, or outright painful. They may even cause bleeding, especially during a bowel movement. This can be particularly alarming during pregnancy.
Dr. Mitchell advises his pregnant patients on things they can do, such as soak in the bathtub, to keep symptoms of an internal or external hemorrhoid under control. Once they deliver the baby and the increased pressure goes away, he can easily get rid of the hemorrhoid.
Premier Surgical Associates offers the only dedicated non-surgical hemorrhoid treatment center in the Knoxville region. The non-surgical, painless treatment uses an infrared laser that generates short bursts of warm light, causing the hemorrhoid to shrink and recede. The procedure can typically be done in a minute, and is effective in eliminating hemorrhoids 95% of the time although two to four separate treatments may be required. The treatment requires is no anesthesia and no down time, which is a common concern for new moms.
“Sometimes an internal hemorrhoid will swell and extend outside the anus,” Dr. Mitchell explains. “It can be the size of a pencil eraser or as big as a golf ball, and can be quite painful. I can take care of these during the pregnancy, and it typically takes only about 30 seconds. I put numbing medicine on it, make a little nick, and tease the blood out until it’s shrunk.”
The other pregnancy-related condition Dr. Mitchell treats is a residual hemorrhoid anal skin tag. “That’s a fancy word for a what we might call a dangly, or a tag,” he explains. “Sometimes, if a woman has had two or three pregnancies, some stretched out skin may be hanging back there. This can be a nuisance and is hard to clean, but it’s easy to remove. After I get rid of the internal hemorrhoid issue, which takes about a minute, I put numbing medicine on the tag and snip it off.”
If you’d like to talk to a specialist about your hemorrhoid treatment options during pregnancy, call Premier Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Knoxville today at (865) 588-9952 or request an appointment online.