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Rectal Bleeding Confusion
Some women become anxious over what they presume to be vaginal bleeding or spotting during their pregnancy. Studies show that it often is actually rectal bleeding. According to the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board, rectal bleeding is not normally a sign of a serious condition or of any harm being caused to the fetus. The most common form of rectal bleeding is hemorrhoids. Rectal bleeding can also be the result of anal fissures that occur due to the passing of hard stools because of constipation.
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Hemorrhoids and Anal Fissures
Hemorrhoids (external and internal) occur in about fifty percent of women that are pregnant. Commonly called the "varicose veins of the rectum", hemorrhoids are caused by the constant strain of rectal veins expanding and contracting. The further along a woman is in her pregnancy, the harder her uterus presses on the rectal veins. This causes them to dilate even more because of the slowed blood flow in the area, which further aggravates hemorrhoids.
Anal fissures are also a common cause of rectal bleeding. They are tiny tears in the skin that line the anal canal. Constipation and the strain of pushing out bowel are the cause of this painful conditions. Though extremely painful, anal fissures are not typically a sign of anything serious. They do not affect the health of the fetus.
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Prevention and Treatment
There are things that women can do to prevent ever having to deal with such painful conditions like hemorrhoids and fissures, including:
- Drink ten to twelve glasses of water daily.
- Avoid constipation by in taking as many fiber rich foods as possible.
- Try to avoid getting the iron needed from medication, opting instead for iron rich foods.
- If feeling constipated, increase bran intake.
Even with preventative measures, it is still possible to still get hemorrhoids and anal fissures:
- Alternate between hot and cold compresses followed by a warm sitz bath.
- Instead of tissue, one can use a moist towelette soaked with witch hazel instead of tissue.
- Ask if it is possible to take a prenatal vitamins that have low iron.
- Take a over the counter medication (if the doctor says it's okay) to alleviate pain and swelling.)
Despite the pain, Joan Lingen (Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Onley Community Health Center, Onancock, VA.,) assures that bleeding from both hemorrhoids and anal fissures will stop on their own.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.
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Baby Center: Rectal Bleeding During Pregnancy
Pregnancy Info: Pregnancy First Trimester