Hemorrhoids, sometimes called rectal lumps or piles, are painful bulges of a vein inside or at the opening of the anus. Hemorrhoids are more common in pregnant women and people over the age of 50. Fortunately, changes in personal habits and the use of over-the-counter medications can often prevent or reduce bleeding of hemorrhoids, although sometimes prescription medications or surgery may be necessary.
According to the Mayo Clinic, having a bowel movement may cause hemorrhoids to bleed. Even a soft bowel movement that occurs with regularity can put pressure on an internal hemorrhoid, which can result in bright red blood in the feces or toilet bowl. Hemorrhoids at the opening of the anus can also bleed as the feces pass through, which can result in bright red blood on the toilet paper.
Bowel movements that are hard and dry and difficult to pass, or that occur several days apart are part of the condition referred to as constipation, and according to the Mayo Clinic, can be a cause of bleeding hemorrhoids. Hard stools can put excessive pressure on a swollen vein as they pass through the rectum and anus, causing the hemorrhoid to bleed. Straining during a bowel movement is common with constipation, and can also cause hemorrhoids to bleed.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, excessive or frequent cleaning around the anus can cause hemorrhoids to bleed. Using a rough cloth or wipe with embedded soaps or lotions can irritate the hemorrhoid and cause it to bleed. Rubbing of the hemorrhoid or using home remedies such as rubbing alcohol or peroxide to clean the area can also cause the hemorrhoid to bleed.
According to the National Library of Medicine, external irritation of the anus can cause a hemorrhoid to bleed. Wearing tight underwear, thong underwear or tight pants can irritate the anus and result in bleeding hemorrhoids. Other sources of irritation, including the use of scented hygiene products, personal lubricants, and perfumed or dyed toilet papers can also be a cause of bleeding hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids on the opening or outside of the anus can become itchy, and according to the National Library of Medicine, scratching itchy hemorrhoids might cause them to bleed. Hemorrhoids also become itchy as a result of contact with certain types of fibers in clothing. Certain soaps and detergents can cause itching. Other causes of hemorrhoidal itching that may result in bleeding include anal infections, sexually transmitted diseases and allergic reactions.
According to the National Library of Medicine, swelling of hemorrhoids could cause them to bleed. The larger a hemorrhoid becomes, the more likely it is to become irritated or block part of the rectum or anus during a bowel movement. If a hemorrhoid becomes large, swelling can cause internal blood clots or bleeding within the tissue, which can turn into a medical emergency if the blood clot becomes lodged in the vein.