Prevention of Hemorrhoids

Several simple lifestyle changes can help prevent hemorrhoids. One of the most effective ways to prevent hemorrhoids is to avoid constipation and straining during bowel movements.

Eating a diet that is high in fiber can help prevent constipation. Foods that contain dietary fiber (also called roughage) include whole grains, fresh or dried fruits, beans, and vegetables. Foods that are high in fiber include the following:

  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain breakfast cereals
  • Brown rice
  • Breads made with 100% whole grains

Fiber supplements are also available. Types of fiber supplements include psyllium (e.g., Metamucil, Fiberall, Hydrocil, Konsyl, Perdiem, Serutan), methylcellulose (e.g., Citrucel), and calcium polycarbophil (e.g., Fibercon, Fiber-Lax, Equalactin, Mitrolan). Each of these fiber supplements has different properties and side effects. For more information about dietary fiber to reduce the risk for hemorrhoids, ask a qualified health care provider, registered dietician, or nutritionist.

Exercise also can help prevent constipation by decreasing the amount of time it takes for food to move through the digestive tract and reducing the amount of water that is absorbed from the stool. Physical activity (e.g., walking as few as 10–15 minutes several times each day) can help improve digestion. Contact a physician before starting any exercise program.

Other ways to help avoid constipation include the following:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol.
  • Change position at least once every hour when sitting or standing for long periods of time.

Keeping the anal area clean can help reduce hemorrhoid symptoms. Use unscented, white toilet tissue (dyes and perfumes can cause irritation) or unscented, pre-moistened wipes. After bathing or showering, dry the area gently and thoroughly.

During pregnancy and childbirth, performing simple exercises can strengthen pelvic floor muscles (muscles that contract to interrupt the flow of urine) and help prevent hemorrhoids. Kegel exercises involve contracting the pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds and then relaxing these muscles for a few seconds. Begin by doing 3 sets of 10 contractions, holding the contraction for 3 seconds and releasing for 3 seconds. Each day, add 1 second to the contraction and release time—up to 10 seconds.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 25 Dec 2008

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015