Also known as “piles”, hemorrhoids are quite common and can affect up to 5 percent of the general population, especially those over the age of 50. Although both men and women can be afflicted, it’s been found that for people above the age of 45, 25 percent of those who develop hemorrhoids are female, compared to the 15 percent of men. Hemorrhoids in females can sometimes get tricky because they may have the tendency to go beyond being a pain in the bum—quite literally. Sometimes, hemorrhoids can cause pain in the vaginal and perineal area itself. We’re here to find out why, and what you can do about it.
What are hemorrhoids?Hemorrhoids are swollen veins found in the lowest part of one’s rectum and anus. At times, the walls of these blood vessels get so thinly stretched that the veins bulge out and become irritated, especially when one pushes out stool to defecate.
The three types of hemorrhoids
External hemorrhoidsThis type of hemorrhoid is found under the skin around the anus, surrounded by pain-sensing nerves. Symptoms of external hemorrhoids include pain, bleeding, swelling and itching.
Internal hemorrhoidsInternal hemorrhoids are located deep in the rectum where you normally cannot feel or see them. Generally, they do not hurt because there aren’t many pain-sensing nerves found in that part of the body. Symptoms of internal hemorrhoids include blood on your stool. There’s can also be tissue that protrudes outside the anal opening. This can hurt when pooping, but it normally goes back on its own.
Thrombosed hemorrhoidsA thrombosed hemorrhoid is when an external hemorrhoid gets a blood clot and it turns blue or purplish. Symptoms of this kind of hemorrhoid are bleeding, itching and severe pain.
What causes hemorrhoids?The most common cause of hemorrhoids is repeated and prolonged straining while passing stool. This happens when one has severe cases of constipation or diarrhea. Straining blocks the blood flow in the rectum, which results in the blood pooling and also the vessels becoming enlarged. Pregnancy also can cause hemorrhoids due to the weight of the growing baby bearing down on the perineal area. If you have a family history of hemorrhoids or have long-term or chronic constipation or diarrhea, you may experience hemorrhoids. Certain foods can cause either excessive diarrhea or constipation, which will lead to one’s excessive straining in the toilet. These foods include milk, cheese and all other dairy, bread made from white flour like bagels, too much meat, processed foods such as fast food and canned goods.
Why does hemorrhoids pain extend to the perineal area?
The perineum is the area between the genitals and the anus. In females, the perineum begins at the front of the vulva, extending all the way to the anus. External hemorrhoids may cause bleeding, itching or at times even cause pain. Some hemorrhoids put pressure on the perineum. This pressure can, in turn, cause pain in the perineum area. The pain worsens at times right after a bowel movement. Sometimes, people with chronic constipation strain so much that it causes the perineum to prolapse (bulge down or descend). This can cause pain in the perineal area as well.