Health experts have not determined the exact cause of hemorrhoids, but they are known to appear because increased pressure within your lower abdomen or rectum stretches the veins in these areas. This leads to the bulging and swelling of these blood vessels.1,2
Other factors that may or may not affect your risk for having hemorrhoids include:3,4,5,6,7,8
Blood ends up in the hemorrhoidal veins, where it can cause hemorrhoids11
• Straining during bowel movement: people who strain too much during bowel movement increase pressure on the veins located in their anus or rectum, potentially leading to hemorrhoids
• Chronic constipation or diarrhea: in connection with the previous risk factor, having these conditions may prompt you to strain hard during bowel movement
• Sitting for a long period of time, especially on the toilet: chronic sitting, especially when you’re on the toilet, puts stress on your veins and consequently increases your risk for hemorrhoids
• Family history: weak veins that run in the family could be considered as a risk factor. Weaker veins tend to be more easily damaged or widened and could possibly trigger hemorrhoids9
• Aging: older people are more prone to have hemorrhoids because the tissues supporting the veins in their rectum and anus stretch and weaken with age
• Anal intercourse: while there is no definite link between anal sex and hemorrhoids, it’s said that the act can cause friction that could lead to micro tears in the rectum. People who have anal sex regularly or don’t use enough lubrication may have a higher risk for hemorrhoids
• Low-fiber diet: not eating enough fiber can make your stools hard, making you strain harder than usual during bowel movement, increase pressure on your rectum and anus10 and consequently raise your risk for hemorrhoids
• Liver cirrhosis: hemorrhoidal veins are part of a vast circulation system that transports blood from the rectum, liver and back to the heart. Liver cirrhosis patients experience obstruction of blood circulation in the liver, so the blood needs to find another pathway to pass through.
• Obesity: Obese people are more predisposed to hemorrhoids because they don’t get enough high-fiber food in their system, drink less fluids and spend more time sitting instead of working out12
Precautions for Pregnant Women
Although hemorrhoids are more common in men, women can also be affected, especially during pregnancy.13 Blood volume and pressure on the pelvic blood vessels rise as the fetus grows during the last six months of pregnancy. Hemorrhoids can also develop or worsen during childbirth, as a woman may strain too hard during delivery.14
If you want your hemorrhoids to heal, make sure to have them checked as soon as possible. Unfortunately, your hemorrhoids won’t go away if treatment options are not used,15 and this can result in further complications such as anemia or strangulated hemorrhoids (although they are rare),16 and may even require surgical removal.