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Between 25% and 35% of pregnant women will experience hemorrhoids during pregnancy. The good news is that this painful condition is harmless to a mother’s unborn baby, but due to the discomfort it causes, most pregnant women will seek out treatment. The most popular treatment for hemorrhoids is topical cream, but like many other over-the-counter medications, only some are suitable for pregnant women. But which ones are they and is topical cream the best solution for both you and your unborn baby?
Hemorrhoid Cream During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the growing weight of your baby pushes your uterus up into your abdomen and weighs it down. The sheer weight of your uterus during this time puts pressure on the veins in and around the anus and, for many women, results in hemorrhoids – or piles – occurring. These piles cause swelling, itching, and inflammation that leads to pain and discomfort. As it’s the growing weight within the uterus that leads to hemorrhoids in pregnancy, they usually don’t occur until later on in the pregnancy and are most commonly experienced in the second or third trimester. With typical pregnancy pain and fatigue already getting you down, the last thing you need is to feel any more pain, so many women will seek out hemorrhoid cream and other remedies to help alleviate their condition.
But even if you’ve escaped hemorrhoids throughout the entire nine months of your pregnancy, you could develop them afterward. Women who have had a vaginal delivery are more susceptible to postnatal hemorrhoids than those who have had a C-section, and they don’t always go away quickly. Research shows that 25% of mothers with postnatal hemorrhoids still have them six months after giving birth. Again, these women can benefit from using hemorrhoid cream to help clear up their condition.
Safe Hemorrhoid Cream During Pregnancy
When it comes to using hemorrhoid cream during pregnancy, some caution should be taken. Before you apply any hemorrhoid cream to the affected area, make sure you read the directions and look for information regarding whether the product is cited as being safe to use in pregnancy both on the packet and online. If it warns against using it while pregnant, make sure you don’t as this could cause complications as your pregnancy progresses. Even if the cream says that it is suitable for use by pregnant women, it is advisable to seek confirmation from your doctor, midwife, or obstetrician first.
Which Hemorrhoid Cream is Safe During Pregnancy?
The most common type of cream used to treat hemorrhoids is a hydrocortisone based one. Hydrocortisone cream is a mild steroid corticosteroid that works to treat inflammation of the skin. These medications are available both over the counter and on prescription. Typically, over the counter hydrocortisone creams are up to 1% in strength, whereas, prescription creams come in strengths up to 2.5%. In most cases, over the counter hydrocortisone creams are effective enough to tackle pregnancy-related hemorrhoids.
There are multiple hydrocortisone creams that can be used if absolutely needed in pregnancy. However, the general advice is that safer treatment options, such as warm baths, and upping your fiber intake should be utilized first. Over the counter and prescription creams should only be used under the strict guidance of a medical professional and the risks should always be carefully considered before hydrocortisone creams are administered during pregnancy. Ovia Health states that the hemorrhoid cream Preparation H is generally safe in pregnancy. However, Anusol HC, a 1% hydrocortisone that is readily available in pharmacies, states ‘Do not use in pregnancy or breastfeeding due to ‘inadequate evidence of safety in human pregnancy and there may be a very small risk of cleft palate and intrauterine growth retardation as well as suppression of the neonatal HPA axis.’
An alternative treatment option for treating hemorrhoids during pregnancy is Sudocrem. Sudocrem is a mild antiseptic that you will need plenty of pots of when your baby is born as it’s great at healing a nappy rash. But many pregnant women swear it helps to clear up hemorrhoids, too. Although Sudocrem isn’t cited as a type of hemorrhoid cream, its antiseptic properties can help to soothe and heal the affected area. But, be warned, this cream can be messy, so it’s worth using a panty liner to protect your clothing.
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Can You use Hemorrhoid Cream while Pregnant?
It’s understandable that pregnant women with hemorrhoids will want a quick-fix solution to get rid of them as quickly as possible. However, before you reach for hemorrhoid cream, it’s worth considering and trying out some other remedies – especially as some of them have proved to be more effective at treating hemorrhoids. One study, for example, found that sitz baths cleared up hemorrhoids in 100% of pregnant women. The same study found that hemorrhoid cream effectively treated 84.8% of pregnant women. As a sitz bath is usually more convenient and easier to do then applying creams, it’s certainly worth a try.
Other hemorrhoid relief options include using witch hazel soaked pads, stool softeners, and Rhoid Balm. Motherlove’s Rhoid Balm is made from 100% USDA Certified Organic ingredients and is considered safe for use by pregnant women. But if you don’t want to take the risk of using topical creams while you’re pregnant, increasing your fluid intake, applying ice to the affected area, getting up and moving around frequently to avoid putting additional pressure on the area, and gently pushing the hemorrhoids back into place can all help to alleviate the pain and discomfort you’re feeling.
Pregnancy Hemorrhoid Cream
While there isn’t a specific brand of hemorrhoid cream that is formulated especially for pregnant women, there are multiple brands that pregnant women with the condition may wish to consider. These include:
- Anusol HC
- Anugesic HC
- Germaloids HC
- Preparation H
Drugs.com lists a total of 81 different hemorrhoid creams and also states their pregnancy category. It’s highly recommended that you review the pregnancy category of any drug you’re thinking about taking or using during pregnancy, including hemorrhoid creams. Ideally, you want to choose drugs that fall under category A as this means human studies have failed to find any risk of using the drug on an unborn fetus. Disappointingly, none of the 81 creams assessed by Drugs.com fall within category A, but there are multiple creams that are category B – the next safest category. These include:
- Xylocaine jelly
Category B means that animal reproduction studies haven’t found any risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies to assess the risk in pregnant women. Caution should still be taken when choosing these creams, but it’s widely believed that the potential benefits of using a cream in category B outweigh the potential risks.
Hemorrhoids are an annoying and painful condition that affects thousands of pregnant and new mothers each year. While it can be tempting to immediately reach for hemorrhoid cream to gain relief from this condition, it’s worth considering the alternatives first as research shows they could be more effective at clearing up the condition and they could pose less of a risk to your unborn baby’s health.