Bleeding of any type in pregnancy can be alarming. Rectal bleeding, however, is normally not serious even in pregnancy. The cause can usually be easily and quickly identified. Many women experience this nuisance of pregnancy, and there are measures that can be taken to relieve it.
The most common types of rectal bleeding in pregnancy are bleeding from a crack or fissure in the anus and bleeding originating from hemorrhoids. Fissures can happen as a result of overstraining, as pregnancy slows down the digestive tract which can lead to constipation. Hemorrhoids can also be caused by overstraining. If a pregnant mother experiences frequent bowel movements, irritation from wiping may also cause rectal bleeding.
To determine whether you are experiencing rectal bleeding during your pregnancy, make sure the blood is not coming from the vaginal area. You may need to examine the anal area as well to locate the source of bleeding. While a fissure will feel like a sharp, painful cut on the edge of the skin, hemorrhoids are a soft, lumpy swelled area protruding from the anus. They are often called "piles" because they resemble a grouping of small grapes.
The main side effect of rectal bleeding in pregnancy is physical discomfort or pain. Anal fissures can make elimination unpleasant, particularly if you are experiencing constipation or sluggish bowel movements. Because hemorrhoids are bulging varicose veins, they may cause friction when you walk and pain during bowel movements and wiping.
The most effective way to avoid or relieve the symptoms associated with rectal bleeding in pregnancy is to maintain regularity. Simple ways to do this include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eat healthy, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads
- Get your iron through foods and food-based supplements
Cold compresses or witch hazel may be used to sooth the pain of hemorrhoids. To help prevent them altogether, be sure to do Kegel exercises every day as these strengthen the pelvic floor and anal muscles. To perform a Kegel flex your pelvic floor as though stopping a stream of urine. Hold for several seconds then release. Do several sets at a time.
Very rarely, rectal bleeding may be an indication of a more serious condition such as polyps or colon cancer. This cancer only occurs in about 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 50,000 pregnant women and is treatable with a good prognosis if caught early. If your rectal bleeding does not appear to be caused by fissures or hemorrhoids, consult your health care provider for testing.
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