Symptoms Of Hemorrhoids in Women

Medically reviewed by: Liza M. Capiendo, MD
Last modified on February 13th, 2024

The symptoms of hemorrhoids in women are the same as in men. This is a common condition that accounts for 4 million doctor visits every year in the US. 

Therefore, it’s important to know what it is, how you can identify it, and how it’s treated. 

So if you’re a woman worried you might have hemorrhoids, this post will answer your questions about the condition.

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Hemorrhoids in women

According to demographic data, hemorrhoids in women are not more common in men. In fact, men are more likely to seek treatment for hemorrhoids than women.

However, women experience an important cause of hemorrhoids — pregnancy. During pregnancy, the growing uterus compresses the body’s major vein, the inferior vena cava. 

As this vein gets compressed, it can cause a backup of blood in the blood vessels around the anus, leading to hemorrhoids.

Are the hemorrhoid symptoms different for women vs. males?

No, the symptoms of hemorrhoids are generally the same for both genders. The main differences lie in their risk factors. 

Females can be more prone to developing hemorrhoids due to the pressure of pregnancy and childbirth, as well as hormonal changes that can cause constipation. 

However, both men and women can develop hemorrhoids from similar causes, such as straining during bowel movements or sitting for long periods of time.

With that being said, women may prefer a female doctor to treat their hemorrhoids, as they may feel more comfortable discussing the issue with someone of the same gender. 

Additionally, some doctors may be better trained to treat the specific issues that are more common in women, such as pelvic floor disorders or postpartum hemorrhoids. 

Are the hemorrhoid treatment options different for women vs men?

For the most part, the hemorrhoid treatment options are the same for women vs men. Both will receive conservative treatment at first, then go on to receive an office-based procedure, and finally may have to undergo surgery if the condition is unresponsive or severe.

With that said, many females would be more comfortable with a female doctor, as mentioned above. In this case, Dr. Liza Capiendo is a double board-certified surgeon at LA Colon and Rectal Associates, and may be an excellent option if you’re in Los Angeles. 

Symptoms of internal hemorrhoids

Symptoms of an internal hemorrhoid include:

  • Bright, painless rectal bleeding at the end of a bowel movement
  • Anal itching
  • A lump around the anus in case of prolapse, which is where the hemorrhoid pops out of the anal canal
  • Ulcer formation, which can lead to significant pain and bleeding

In case you’re wondering, hemorrhoids are classified as either internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids are swollen veins located above the dentate line (a line between rectum and anus), while external ones form around the anal opening.

Symptoms of external hemorrhoids

The symptoms of an external hemorrhoid are similar to those of internal hemorrhoids, with the only difference being that they are located outside the anal canal and are usually painful.

A subtype of external hemorrhoids is known as thrombosed external hemorrhoids. This is when a blood clot forms inside a hemorrhoid and causes extreme pain, swelling, and inflammation. 

A thrombosed hemorrhoid presents as a painful bluish swelling around the anal canal and fortunately, goes away on its own in most cases.

How do you check for internal hemorrhoids at home?

It is not possible to check for internal hemorrhoids at home. That’s because the only way to diagnose internal hemorrhoids is through a digital rectal exam. This exam can be performed by your doctor, who will use a gloved finger to feel around the rectum and anus for any lumps or bulging.

In some cases, your doctor may also perform an anoscopy to identify hemorrhoids. A small device is inserted into the anus to get a better view of the area and take biopsies if needed.

Since both of these procedures require proper technique and expertise, it’s not recommended to look for internal hemorrhoids at home. You can, however, look for external hemorrhoids by gently pressing around the anal area and feeling for any lumps.

Of course, the signs and symptoms of internal hemorrhoids, as described above, can make you suspect the condition. But unless you visit a doctor, there’s no way to confirm your diagnosis.

What is the main cause of hemorrhoids?

The main cause of hemorrhoids is straining with an open sphincter (the muscle around your anus). 

This means that when you strain during a bowel movement, the muscles around your anus are relaxed and can cause stretching of the veins that are part of the blood supply to that area. This is especially likely to happen if you have chronic constipation.

Other causes of hemorrhoids are pregnancy and aging, and in some cases, prolonged sitting and connective tissue disorders can also cause the condition.

Interestingly, heavy weight lifting is not a major cause of hemorrhoids. That’s because when you’re lifting weights, you’re straining against a closed sphincter. This means there won’t be any downward movement of the anal veins, making hemorrhoids less likely.

What makes hemorrhoids worse?

If you already have hemorrhoids, there are certain lifestyle factors that can worsen the condition. These include:

  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Prolonged sitting
  • A low-fiber diet
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity
  • Straining to urinate, as happens with people who have benign prostatic hyperplasia
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy

As you might have noticed, these are all also causes of hemorrhoids.

How to treat hemorrhoids in women?

Hemorrhoid treatment in women includes lifestyle modifications, hemorrhoid creams, office-based procedures, and surgery.

Hemorrhoid symptoms are first treated with lifestyle modifications. These include consuming a high-fiber diet, exercising regularly, drinking lots of fluids, and avoiding straining during bowel movements.

If these lifestyle modifications do not help, your doctor may recommend medications or ointments to soothe the area and reduce inflammation. 

If these still do not provide relief, they may move on to office-based procedures such as sclerotherapy or rubber band ligation.

Finally, if all else fails, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove the hemorrhoid. This is usually done as a last resort and only in cases of severe hemorrhoids.

So how do doctors decide whether to go for an office-based procedure or surgery? The answer lies in hemorrhoid grading. Both internal and external hemorrhoids are graded the same way — on a scale of 1 to 4.

Here’s how hemorrhoids are graded:

  • Grade 1: These are small internal hemorrhoids that bleed, but do not prolapse outside the anus.
  • Grade 2: These hemorrhoids prolapse outside the anus during a bowel movement, but spontaneously retract back in.
  • Grade 3: These are larger internal hemorrhoids that prolapse outside the anus and have to be pushed back in manually.
  • Grade 4: These are very large hemorrhoids that can no longer be pushed back in.

Grade 1-3 hemorrhoids can be treated with an office-based procedure, while grade 4 hemorrhoids usually need surgery.

FAQs

Are hemorrhoids common in females?

Hemorrhoids are a common condition in general. There is no clear data to suggest that women are more likely than men to develop hemorrhoids, although it is possible for women with certain conditions such as pregnancy, obesity, and connective tissue disorders to experience this condition more often.

How do I check myself for hemorrhoids?

At home, you can check for external hemorrhoids by looking for swellings near your anus. If you have internal hemorrhoids, you may notice bright red blood on the toilet paper after going to the bathroom.

It is important to note that some other conditions, such as polyps and anal fissures, can also cause symptoms similar to hemorrhoids. So it is best to see your doctor for a proper way to get your hemorrhoids diagnosed.

Do hemorrhoids in females go away?

The majority of small hemorrhoids in females go away on their own in a week or so. However, how long hemorrhoids last can depend on a range of factors, such as their severity and your lifestyle.

What foods trigger hemorrhoids?

A low-fiber diet can contribute to constipation, which in turn can lead to hemorrhoids. Foods that may trigger or worsen hemorrhoids include processed foods, red and fatty meats, dairy products, and sugary snacks. Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber supplements can help to reduce the risk of hemorrhoids.

What happens if internal hemorrhoids go untreated?

If left untreated, internal hemorrhoids can prolapse outside the anus and become irritated and inflamed. This can lead to pain, itching, bleeding, and other complications. 

In some cases, prolapsed internal hemorrhoids can convert into a strangulated hemorrhoid, meaning the tissue dies due to a lack of blood flow. 

Long-term bleeding from hemorrhoids can also cause iron deficiency anemia (IDA). IDA comes with its own set of signs and symptoms, including fatigue, headache, and dizziness. It’s important to treat hemorrhoids in time to prevent these complications.

Symptoms of hemorrhoids in women explained

Hemorrhoids are a common condition in women. The majority of cases can be managed with lifestyle modifications and medications, but more severe cases may need office-based procedures or even surgery. It is important to get a proper diagnosis from your doctor and follow their advice for the best outcome.

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