Wendy (who prefers to not use her last name) is the mother of two boys, ages six and three. During the second trimester of both pregnancies, Wendy suffered from common hemorrhoid symptoms, including persistent pain and occasional bleeding. The pain got worse during the third trimester of her second pregnancy, but she admits she didn't treat it continuously. It wasn't until the birth of her second child that things began to worsen for Wendy and she became proactive in treating her hemorrhoids.
A hemorrhoid is a mass of dilated veins in swollen anal tissue that may itch or cause pain. The good news is that for most women hemorrhoids can be managed with a combination of proper diet, medication, and open dialogue with a physician.
Recognizing Hemorrhoids: What to Look For
There are several things women may notice that could indicate they have problem hemorrhoids, such as drops of blood after wiping or feeling a lump after a bowel movement. Discomfort and itching are also common. Here are the types of hemorrhoids to watch for:
External hemorrhoids are located in the opening of the anus and often do not require medical treatment unless a clot develops. They can be itchy or painful and sometimes bleed. You may feel them as lumps.
Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the anal canal. They are usually not painful, though they may itch and bleed. They can protrude (called a prolapsed hemorrhoid) and are measured on severity from first to fourth degree.
- First degree: Will bleed but do not protrude from the anus.
- Second degree: Will protrude on their own during a bowel movement and then go back into place. May bleed slightly.
- Third degree: Will protrude and must be put back into place with assistance.
- Fourth degree: Will protrude, can't be put back into place, and contain blood clots