Can Hemorrhoids Cause Constipation? Exploring the Link

Jun 04, 2024 | 5 min read

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Hemorrhoids can lead to constipation by causing pain and discomfort during bowel movements, leading to stool retention. Managing diet, hydration, and lifestyle is crucial to prevent and alleviate this condition.

can hemorrhoids cause constipation

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins in the lowest part of the rectum and anus. Sometimes the walls of these blood vessels stretch so thin that the veins bulge and get irritated, especially when you have a bowel movement. Hemorrhoids can be very uncomfortable and cause pain, itching, and bleeding during bowel movements.

Types of Hemorrhoids

There are two main types of hemorrhoids: internal and external.

  • Internal Hemorrhoids: These form inside the rectum and are usually not visible. They rarely cause discomfort but can bleed and lead to protrusion outside the anus, especially during bowel movements.
  • External Hemorrhoids: These develop under the skin around the anus. They can be itchy or painful and may bleed. When irritated, external hemorrhoids can form a hard lump, which can be particularly painful.


Hemorrhoids are very common, affecting approximately 50% of people over the age of 50 in the United States, as mentioned in the NIDDK publication. 

However, they can occur at any age and are often associated with periods of prolonged sitting, straining during bowel movements, pregnancy, and chronic constipation or diarrhea. 

Despite being a common issue, many people are reluctant to talk about hemorrhoids, leading to a lack of awareness about their prevalence and treatment options.

Can Hemorrhoids Cause Constipation?

The relationship between hemorrhoids and constipation is intricate, as each condition can influence the other

Hemorrhoids can lead to constipation in several ways:

Discomfort and Pain During Bowel Movement

When you have hemorrhoids, passing stool can be painful.

The fear of pain associated with hemorrhoids can lead to a cycle of constipation. People might delay bowel movements to avoid discomfort, resulting in harder stools that are more difficult to pass. This avoidance behavior can exacerbate both constipation and hemorrhoids, creating a vicious cycle.

Obstruction of the Stool Passageway

Swollen hemorrhoids, both internal and external, can obstruct the anus and rectum, making it difficult for stool to pass.

Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the rectum and may protrude, causing a blockage.

External hemorrhoids form under the skin around the anus and can become enlarged, also leading to obstruction.

This physical blockage can cause constipation, as the stool cannot move freely through the digestive tract.

Constipation can indeed lead to the development of hemorrhoids. When a person is constipated, they often strain during bowel movements, which puts significant pressure on the veins in the anus and rectum. This straining can cause these veins to swell and become hemorrhoids. 

Here's how constipation contributes to hemorrhoid formation:

Straining During Bowel Movements

Straining is a major risk factor for hemorrhoids. The increased pressure from straining stretches the veins in the anal canal, leading to swelling and the formation of hemorrhoids.

Pressure on Veins

Chronic constipation means that the bowel movements are infrequent and hard, which requires more effort to pass. This constant pressure weakens the veins, making them more susceptible to becoming hemorrhoids.

Risk Factors

Several factors can increase the risk of both constipation and hemorrhoids, including:

  • Diet: A diet low in fiber can lead to constipation, making it difficult to pass stools easily.
  • Hydration: Not drinking enough water can result in hard stools, which are more difficult to pass.
  • Lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity can slow down the digestive system.
  • Pregnancy: The pressure from the growing uterus on the veins in the rectal area can cause hemorrhoids.
  • Age: As people age, the tissues that support the veins in the rectum and anus can weaken, leading to hemorrhoids.

Treatment and Relief

Dietary Changes

Making dietary adjustments is one of the most effective ways to manage and prevent hemorrhoids and constipation. Here are some practical tips:

  • Increase Fiber Intake: Consuming more fiber can help soften stools and make them easier to pass. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. Foods like apples, berries, carrots, broccoli, and whole-grain bread are excellent sources of fiber. Fiber supplements can also be beneficial if you're not getting enough from your diet.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is crucial for keeping stools soft and preventing constipation. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day. Other hydrating options include herbal teas and water-rich fruits like watermelon and cucumbers.

Lifestyle Modifications

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of hemorrhoids and constipation:

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity helps stimulate bowel movements. Activities like walking, swimming, and yoga can promote regularity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
  • Avoid Prolonged Sitting: Sitting for long periods, especially on the toilet, can increase pressure on the veins in the anus and rectum. Take breaks to stand and move around regularly if you have a sedentary job.

Home Remedies

Several home remedies can provide relief from the discomfort caused by hemorrhoids and constipation:

  • Sitz Baths: Soaking in a warm, shallow bath for 10-15 minutes can help reduce pain and inflammation. Adding Epsom salts can enhance the soothing effect.
  • Over-the-Counter Creams and Ointments: These products can help relieve symptoms like itching and pain. Look for those containing hydrocortisone or witch hazel.

Medical Treatments

If dietary and lifestyle changes aren’t enough, medical treatments may be necessary:

  • Stool Softeners: These can make stools easier to pass by increasing the water content in the stool. They should be used as a short-term solution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
  • Professional Treatments: For persistent or severe hemorrhoids, treatments such as the CRH O’Regan System can be effective. This non-surgical procedure removes hemorrhoids quickly and with minimal discomfort.

When to Seek Help

While hemorrhoids are often manageable with home remedies and lifestyle changes, there are times when medical intervention is necessary:

  • Severe Pain or Bleeding: If you experience significant pain or bleeding during bowel movements, it’s important to consult a doctor.
  • Persistent Symptoms: If symptoms persist despite home treatment, seek professional advice.
  • Changes in Bowel Habits: If you notice any changes in your bowel habits, such as increased frequency, diarrhea, or constipation that lasts more than a week, it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider.
  • Lumps or Swelling: If you find a lump around your anus or experience swelling that doesn’t go away, it’s important to have it checked to rule out other conditions.

You can use an online tool Symptom Checker to identify potential issues based on your symptoms and provide guidance on whether to seek professional medical help. However, remember that online tools are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional before taking any action.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Understanding the connection between hemorrhoids and constipation is crucial for effective management and prevention. Hemorrhoids can cause constipation due to the pain and discomfort they bring, leading individuals to avoid bowel movements.

Conversely, constipation can lead to hemorrhoids through increased straining and pressure on the veins in the anus and rectum. Adopting a high-fiber diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and making other healthy lifestyle choices can help alleviate and prevent both conditions.

If you experience persistent symptoms or severe discomfort, it’s important to seek medical advice.

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