Does Cycling Make Hemorrhoids Worse?

Three-quarters of American adults suffer from hemorrhoids at some point, says the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, with most cases happening between the ages of 45 to 65 for those of both sexes or during pregnancy in women. Certain activities make this painful problem worse, especially if you put pressure on the affected area.

Road cyclists out for a ride. (Image: PeteSherrard/iStock/Getty Images)

Definition

Hemorrhoid are veins in your lower rectum or around your anus that get inflamed and swollen. Internal hemorrhoids in the rectum sometimes stick out through the anus, while external hemorrhoids appear as swelling under the anal skin. Both hemorrhoid types can cause spotting of bright, red blood, and external or protruding hemorrhoids are sore and itchy.

Causes

You are more prone to hemorrhoids if you spend a long time on the toilet and strain while trying to move your bowels and if you have frequent diarrhea or constipation. The problem also comes from not eating enough fiber, the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse advises. Pregnant women develop the problem because their rectal or anal veins get enlarged because of pressure in the abdomen. Older adults are more prone to hemorrhoids because the connective tissue in their anal areas and rectums weakens naturally as they age.

Exercise Effects

Regular exercise improves digestion but can worsen hemorrhoids if you do the wrong type. Cycling often irritates the problem and causes more pain and swelling because sitting on a bike seat puts pressure on the afflicted area. Weight lifting is also problematic because it strains the lower back, which can also worsen hemorrhoids. Stick to activities like running, walking, swimming or doing yoga, Pilates or aerobics if you have problems with hemorrhoids. Exercises that improve muscle tone are especially good for preventing or improving hemorrhoids.

Treatment

Treating your hemorrhoids before/after you ride can help keep the pain down. Soak the affected area in warm water to sooth it. Use baby wipes for personal cleansing, and wear cotton underpants. Apply corticosteroid creams to ease itching. Some creams contain lidocaine to numb the area if the pain is intolerable.

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