What Are the Causes of Hemorrhoids?

The fiber from vegetables can prevent hemorrhoids.
The fiber from vegetables can prevent hemorrhoids. (Image: "Clagett Farm CSA Week 11" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: thebittenword.com under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, occur internally or externally and are swollen, inflamed veins around the anus and lower rectum. The presence of hemorrhoids is common in adults and may be hereditary. Symptoms of the presence of hemorrhoids include itching, discomfort or rectal bleeding, which can cause blood to be present in the stool or toilet bowl or on toilet paper. Although the exact cause of hemorrhoids is not known, there are a number of possible reasons.

Straining During Bowel Movements

When we strain during bowel movements, especially when we have difficulty passing stool, the stool passes through the tighter sphincter, which is a muscle in the anus that’s able to relax and contract as required. The force that we exert drags the hemorrhoidal cushions downward, thereby enlarging them. Forcing stool through the anal canal is one probable cause of hemorrhoids because straining excessively can cause the veins around the anus to bulge or swell, increasing the chance of developing hemorrhoids.

Prolonged Sitting on the Toilet

The best time to sit on the toilet is when you’re ready to pass stool and not anytime before that. Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time can put stress on the rectal region by adding pressure to the veins around the anus, which may lead to developing hemorrhoids. Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods can help to reduce straining during bowel movements and likewise, require less time sitting on the toilet.

Chronic Diarrhea or Constipation

Chronic diarrhea or constipation can cause flare-ups, leading the veins around the anus to stretch under pressure and bulge or swell. An active lifestyle as well as a balanced diet that is rich in fiber can help reduce the pressure on the veins and keep you from becoming constipated and from developing flare-ups in the future.


During pregnancy, there is an increased pressure on the veins around the anus, making it common for pregnant women to develop hemorrhoids. Pregnant women can become more constipated than usual, thereby increasing their need to strain while passing stool. Additionally, the uterus tends to expands during pregnancy and more weight and pressure is placed on the pelvic area, thereby placing greater pressure on the veins around the anus.


Hemorrhoids are more likely to develop as we age because the tissues that support the veins around the anus, and the anus itself, may begin to weaken and stretch. Another reason may be that as we get older, the tissue that supports the hemorrhoids to the primary muscle of the anal canal weakens, causing the hemorrhoidal tissue to loosen and slide into the anal canal.


Being obese may increase your chances of developing hemorrhoids due to the fact that obese people have a larger abdominal cavity, causing them to exert additional pressure when passing stool. Additionally, like pregnant women, excess weight and pressure is placed on the pelvic area of obese people even when performing normal activities such as standing or walking, and may cause hemorrhoids.

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