What Is the Best Sitting Position for Hemorrhoids?

Medically reviewed by: Eiman Firoozmand, MD

As we saw in our post on the psychological impact of hemorrhoids, many people do not report or seek treatment for hemorrhoid symptoms. However, research indicates nearly one in three Americans has symptomatic hemorrhoids. 

Another study by the National Library of Medicine reports that hemorrhoids are the third most common outpatient gastrointestinal diagnosis in the USA, leading to nearly 4 million emergency department visits annually. 

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Unfortunately, despite their prevalence and the considerable emotional and physical suffering they cause, hemorrhoids have received surprisingly little research attention. The lack of research and public awareness of hemorrhoids makes this already painful condition very difficult for patients to live with. 

So, in an attempt to break the stigma and make discussions around hemorrhoids and anal health more open, we have compiled information on a common query — what is the best sitting position for hemorrhoids? Let’s find out.

Do hemorrhoids have a relationship with sitting?

Hemorrhoids — especially external hemorrhoids — can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort, making sitting an extremely uncomfortable task. However, because sitting can put increased pressure around the anal area, sitting for long periods can also cause new hemorrhoids to develop. 

The pressure of sitting is particularly magnified when on the toilet. Even if you’re not straining during a normal bowel movement, sitting on the toilet for long stretches can increase pressure on your anus and pelvic floor. For instance, reading or browsing your phone for a long time on the toilet can cause strain, even if you’ve already evacuated your bowels. 

Similarly, if you work a full-time desk job, this can also increase your likelihood of developing hemorrhoids at some point. Long flights or road trips can also exacerbate the condition, and a sedentary lifestyle can make you more hemorrhoid-prone and trigger hemorrhoid pain.  

Now, this can be incredibly frustrating, particularly if the nature of your job or activities requires being seated for long periods. If you find yourself in pain while seated at your desk or are avoiding activities that require sitting, the good news is that there may be a solution for you. And that is the right sitting position.

How to sit with hemorrhoids?

Whether you have external or internal hemorrhoids, the best way to sit with hemorrhoids is to use a soft memory foam cushion on your seat and elevate your legs slightly in the air. If your sitz bath and hemorrhoid cream don’t seem to be working, the culprit might be your sitting position. Let’s take a deeper look. 

1. Sit on a soft surface 

Sitting on a hard surface puts increased pressure on your gluteal muscles and can cause the area around your anal canal to stretch, forcing blood vessels to swell out further. So if you’re prone to hemorrhoids, avoid sitting on a hard surface for an extended period. 

Another word of caution — try to avoid sitting on a donut pillow for pain relief when sitting with hemorrhoids. While many people mistakenly believe they are a solution for hemorrhoids, that might not be true.

Since these circular pillows do not have a center, they actually increase pressure on your rectum and pelvic floor and can make hemorrhoid swelling worse. This option may seem appealing since it lifts your anorectal area off of the hard surface you’re sitting on, but it actually adds pressure to your anorectal region and is therefore not recommended. 

2. Sit on a memory foam seat cushion

If you’re looking for a soft seat to support you while you sit, a memory foam seat cushion can be a great help. It can provide relief from pressure that can otherwise exacerbate hemorrhoids and support your lower body to relieve pressure on your pelvic floor and rectum. 

These cushions are made from a material that naturally conforms to your body, so using them is like sitting on a pillow made especially for your body shape. 

Sitting on memory foam pillows can also improve lower body circulation and reduce the risk of constipation, alongside providing support and relief from hemorrhoid pain. 

3. Position on the toilet 

The best position for passing stool is to squat over the toilet. Squatting with your knees against your abdomen creates a better alignment for the release of a bowel movement and is also believed to reduce the risk of hemorrhoid development. 

If squatting is uncomfortable for you, sit on the toilet as you would normally but try raising your feet using a step stool. By bringing your knees above your hips, you alter the angle of your rectum, giving stool a more direct route out of the body. This reduces the chances of over-straining and pressure in your anal area. 

And as mentioned above, avoid sitting on the toilet for long periods if you’re constipated. The wide opening of a toilet seat promotes anorectal stress and can worsen your hemorrhoids or trigger another flare-up. So, instead of sitting for very long, get up and move around to help stimulate your bowels. 

You also want to cut the time you spend on the toilet by performing regular exercise, eating a lot of fiber, and increasing your water intake. This will ensure regular, easy bowel movements, reducing the amount of time you feel the need to sit on the toilet.

4. Keep your legs elevated 

Elevating your legs off the floor reduces the pressure that sitting puts on your spine, rectum, and hips. 

So, try keeping a foam wedge of a rolled-up towel under your thighs to alleviate pressure from your rectal region. You can also use a footrest to get your feet off the floor if you’re sitting for longer periods.

Is it better to walk or sit with hemorrhoids?

Generally, walking around is better than sitting if you have hemorrhoids. This is because a lack of physical activity and sitting for extended periods can make you more prone to hemorrhoidal flare-ups.

In fact, a study from South Korea surveyed around 17000 hemorrhoid sufferers and found that not walking enough was one of the key contributing factors to their condition. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should never sit when you have hemorrhoids. But don’t assume you shouldn’t be walking if you have the condition — it can actually help relieve your pain and itching

What is the best sleeping position with hemorrhoids?

The best way to sleep with hemorrhoids is to make sure you don’t put pressure on your anal area. There are different ways you can achieve this.

For example, you could try sleeping on your side (fetal position) or stomach. If that’s too uncomfortable, you can try placing a soft pillow under your legs to elevate them and reduce the pressure on your anal region. You also want to use a soft mattress — ideally one that’s made of memory foam — to stay comfortable.

Sitting with hemorrhoids simplified

That might have been a lot of information to absorb. So here’s a summary of the most important points:

  • Avoid prolonged sitting, especially on hard surfaces. This is particularly vital for those with desk jobs or on long journeys.
  • Avoid the misconception of the donut seat cushion. It may seem like an ideal solution, but it can intensify the pressure on the problematic region.
  • Opt for a memory foam seat cushion, which can provide the tailored comfort and support needed to alleviate hemorrhoid symptoms.
  • Mind your position on the toilet. Squatting or elevating your knees can help ease the passage of stool, reducing strain and potential flare-ups.
  • Elevate your legs when you do need to sit for longer periods. This can help reduce undue pressure on your lower body.

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’re struggling with hemorrhoids. We’ll be more than happy to help.

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