Home > Body > Health > Let’s Talk About Piles

And no, we don’t mean the laundry…

After you have a baby it’s hard to find a topic that’s off limits when you’re chatting to another mum. 

But we have to be preeetty close to someone to admit we’ve got grape issues down below.

However, seeing as one-quarter of the adult UK population will have haemorrhoids in their lifetime (and mums probably take up a lot of those numbers!) it really shouldn’t be that way.

Thankfully it’s becoming less of a taboo and celebrities and influencers like Millie Mackintosh and Ashley James are opening up about their own experiences and helping to normalise this very normal health condition.

Still feeling self-conscious or concerned?

We spoke to women’s health experts Kari Health to answer some of the main questions you might have about haemorrhoids.

Is it Normal to Get Haemorrhoids During Pregnancy and After Birth?

“Yes, absolutely!” Says Kari Health. “Pregnancy can be a cause as it places increased pressure on your pelvic blood vessels, causing them to enlarge.”

Other factors can be:
1. Constipation and straining on the toilet
2. Being overweight or obese
3. Age – as you get older, your body’s supporting tissues get weaker, increasing your risk
4. Having a family history of haemorrhoids
5. Regularly lifting heavy objects
6. Chronic diarrhoea
7. A persistent cough or repeated vomiting
8. Sitting down for long periods of time

How Long Do Piles Last After Birth?

“Small post-partum haemorrhoids usually decrease in size dramatically 1-6 months post-birth” says Kari Health. “For severe haemorrhoids, you will need to go to your GP or speak to your midwife, especially if they are painful, bleed, or not decreasing in size post-birth.”

What Are the Different Types of Piles?

Kari Health say “haemorrhoids are graded according to how much they protrude.”

First-degree piles may bleed but don’t come out of your anus.

Second-degree piles come out of your anus when you have a poo but go back inside on their own afterwards.

Third-degree piles come out of your anus and only go back inside if you physically push them back in.

Fourth-degree piles always hang down from your anus, and you can’t push them back in. They can become very swollen and painful if the blood inside them clots.

Does Stress or Tiredness Make Piles Worse?

Millie Mackintosh openly chatted on her podcast Mumlemmas about how she experienced a flare-up at her friend Binky’s wedding. She revealed they get worse if she’s stressed or tired. But is this true? Kari Health says, “Stress and tiredness haven’t been proven to cause flare-ups, but if you’re under pressure or exhausted, you might not be drinking enough water or maintaining a good fibre rich diet and doing these things can improve your condition.”

Can You Have a Permanent Haemorrhoid?

“Yes”, says Kari Health. “And you should probably get it checked out unless you want to keep it permanently. A-symptomatic and A-problematic haemorrhoids could be lived with but don’t self-diagnose. Always get them checked by your GP so you can discuss treatment options – which may include leaving them alone.”

Are My Haemorrhoids Normal?

As previously explained, there are different grades but if you’ve got external haemorrhoids Kari Health say, “You are likely to experience several uncomfortable symptoms like anal itching, feeling several lumps or bumps on the anal cushions and possibly pain and discomfort when sitting down. If the haemorrhoids are outside the body, you are more likely to notice them and seek treatment quickly. It’s essential to get checked out by a doctor because some symptoms of haemorrhoids could also point to other health concerns.”

What is a Haemorrhoid and When Should You Worry?

“A haemorrhoid is a tiny blood vessel that has been pushed through the rectum during labour or pregnancy due to increased pressure. Typically, they are a little bit smaller than a red kidney bean and can appear in groups of twos or threes. They can be similar in colour to a kidney bean – think varicose vein in your bottom. They can be very painful and can bleed. It is very normal to have them but please do not self diagnose. Always get them checked by your GP.”

Can You Treat Piles at Home if You’re Too Embarrassed to Go to the Doctor?

“You can use at-home remedies, but really you should see a doctor or a practice nurse”, says Kari Health. “Please don’t feel nervous or worried. They are used to seeing all kinds of bits and do not care how you look down there. Remember what you went through in pregnancy and birth. You’ve more than got this!”

What’s the Best Treatment for Piles?

“When it comes to the fight against haemorrhoids, fibre and water are your very best friends”, says Kari Health. “Aim to eat around 30g of dietary fibre daily – comprising of soluble (fruits and oats), insoluble (wheat bran and nuts), resistant starch (bananas, grains, pulses) and prebiotics (onions, garlic).”

Other Ways to Treat Piles

Over-the-counter remedies – including topical creams and suppositories containing local anaesthetic –which are designed to reduce the swelling, pain and bleeding you could be experiencing. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has a good guide to the different topical preparations and how effective they can be.”

Take warm baths with a drop of lavender oil for at least ten minutes a day to soothe the area.”

Manage pain with paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin.

Use cold or hot compresses to remove swelling and stop bleeding.” Here’s a guide to making a cold compress to treat the inflamed area.

*Always seek medical treatment if at-home remedies don’t work.

What’s the Difference Between Anal Prolapse and Haemorrhoids?

Kari Health say, “Anal prolapse is when part of your lower bowel comes out of your body. Size wise, it’s considerably more significant and will hang lower than a haemorrhoid. It won’t necessarily be as painful as a haemorrhoid as there are not as many nerve endings; however, it will be very uncomfortable and troublesome when you need a poo.”

Seeing a Doctor About Your Piles Could Save Your Life

We get it, it’s embarrassing to talk about piles, but a consultation could save your life. Kari Health say, “Don’t forget that some of the symptoms of haemorrhoids could also be a sign of other health issues. By getting a proper examination from a medical professional, you can rule those out and seek the appropriate treatment for you.”

What is Kari Health?

Kari Health is a Women’s Health Platform that is changing the way women view and care for their health. Designed and run by a team of women’s health experts, you can find expert advice, and articles as well as solutions for your health. Kari Health covers topics other platforms may not.

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