Author’s note: ‘Hemorrhoids’ are a normal part of human anatomy but become a problem when swollen and inflamed. For the sake of discussion, when we use the term hemorrhoids we will actually be referring to abnormal or ‘symptomatic hemorrhoids’.
What are hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels in or around the anus. Symptoms of hemorrhoids include swelling, pain, burning, and itching, all of which can get in the way of day-to-day life. This condition is often caused by strenuous bowel movements or other sources of pressure exerted onto the rectal area, such as pregnancy, strenuous exercise, or how often we sit.
Hemorrhoids can cause a great deal of discomfort, making sitting an extremely uncomfortable thing to do. As sitting causes increased pressure on the affected area, sitting for long periods can also exacerbate and cause hemorrhoids. We know how frustrating this can be to deal with, especially if you have a desk job and find yourself sitting most of the day.
The good news is that there may be a solution for you. There are several ways to sit to relieve the discomfort of hemorrhoids. If you move yourself to a better position for hemorrhoids, the swelling can be reduced, the pain subsides, and healing begins. We’ve put together this resource to help you find the best sitting position for hemorrhoids. We’ll go over several different options so that you can choose the position that works best for you.
Does Sitting Cause Hemorrhoids?
Does sitting cause hemorrhoids? Well, as sitting puts more pressure on the anal area the longer you sit, it can be true that sitting can cause hemorrhoids. Medically reviewed data suggest that hemorrhoids are caused by pressure in and around the anal area. This type of pressure can come from numerous things.
For example, constipation. When you’re constipated, the strain put on your body during a bowel movement sends a great deal of pressure to the rectum and anus, forcing blood into blood vessels that become enlarged.
Sitting causes hemorrhoids in a similar way, though it takes longer. The more you find yourself sitting, the more pressure is put on your rectum and anus. That means you’re increasingly at risk for developing hemorrhoids. If you work at a desk full-time, you have a good chance of developing hemorrhoids at some point. Long road trips or flights can also cause or exacerbate the condition, and a sedentary lifestyle may mean that you’ve become hemorrhoid-prone. It’s all about the pressure you’re putting on your body for long stretches of time, so if you sit most days, you have a very good chance of developing hemorrhoids or triggering a flare-up.
The pressure of sitting is magnified when we are sitting on the toilet. Even if we’re not straining during a normal bowel movement, sitting on the toilet can increase pressure on our pelvic floor and anus. If you find yourself reading or browsing your phone while on the toilet, you are prolonging the amount of time you’re seated. Long stretches on the toilet can cause strain, even if you’ve already evacuated your bowels.
Sitting is a significant factor in the development of hemorrhoids, so let’s go over different ways to sit to reduce the pain and pressure on currently problematic hemorrhoids and reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids in the future.
6 Best Ways to Sit with Hemorrhoids
First things first, it is possible to sit while recovering from hemorrhoids. It’s just a matter of finding a position that doesn’t exacerbate your condition. So, what is the best way to sit with hemorrhoids? We’ve compiled a quick list of medically reviewed sitting positions that promote healing and comfort during hemorrhoid flare-ups. Let’s take a look at how to sit with hemorrhoids. Here are the six best ways to sit with hemorrhoids.
1. Avoid a Donut Seat Cushion
I know that you came here looking for tips but first a word of caution: For relief from pain when sitting with hemorrhoids, a donut seat cushion on your chair is the exact opposite solution you should be looking for. Many websites promote them as a hemorrhoids solution but that is not the case. Here’s why.
These circular pillows, like a donut, have no center. Rather than relieving pressure, a donut seat cushion increases the pressure on your rectum and pelvic floor and impedes the healing of hemorrhoids. This option may at first seem appealing because it lifts your anorectal area off of the sitting area, but because it adds pressure to your anorectal region, this kind of pillow is not recommended.
While they may seem easy to bring with you wherever you go, these types of pillows add unwanted pressure on your body, making them ineffective in finding relief and preventing future hemorrhoidal flare-ups. The goal in using a pillow for hemorrhoid relief is to reduce the anorectal and lower back pressure that causes problem hemorrhoids and makes currently problematic hemorrhoid symptoms worse. Donut pillows do neither.
2. Sit on a Memory Foam Seat Cushion
A fully supportive memory foam seat cushion offers several benefits, including relief from pressure that could otherwise exacerbate hemorrhoids. These unique cushions are made from a material that naturally conforms to your body, so sitting on them is like sitting on a pillow made especially for your shape. Memory foam seat cushions support your lower body in a way to relieve pressure on your pelvic floor and rectum. You’ll also find that sitting on these cushions improves lower body circulation.
As another bonus, reducing the pressure on your body as you sit helps to improve your digestive system and prevent constipation. Plus, these super portable memory foam seat cushions are very comfortable. There is no downside to these products.
Doctor Butler’s memory foam seat cushion offers added benefits to hemorrhoid sufferers as it comes with a strategically placed pocket and dual-use cold and hot therapy gel packs. Insert the gel pack into the pocket before you sit, and you’ll get all the great benefits of a memory foam seat cushion with the added treatment of cold and heat hemorrhoid therapy, which you can learn more about in our Ask The Doctor post on finding relief from hemorrhoids with cold and hot therapy.
3. Keep Your Legs Elevated
Elevating your legs off the floor reduces the pressure that sitting can put on your hips, rectum, and spine. The more often you elevate your legs as you sit, the more it can help relieve the pain of a hemorrhoid flare-up. A foam wedge or rolled-up towel under your thighs can alleviate the pressure on the affected area as well as promote better circulation. Certain well designed seat cushions (*wink, wink*) have support in the front of the cushion as well. A footrest is also an excellent way to get your feet up off the floor as you sit. If you have to sit for long periods, try to do it with your legs elevated off the floor to reduce pressure, swelling, pain and improve blood flow.
4. Use a Toilet Stool When Going #2
Elevating the knees above the hips while using the toilet opens up the rectum, straightening the anal canal. This squatting position raises the feet off the floor and means that the stool can pass with increased ease. Use a small step stool on your bathroom floor to bring your knees up when you have a bowel movement, and you’ll feel less strain and pressure as you go. Reduced pressure means reduced risk of exacerbating hemorrhoids or a new flare-up.
5. Avoid Sitting on the Toilet for Prolonged Periods
Many of us find ourselves sitting on the toilet after we’ve already gone. Sometimes we’re reading. Other times we’re scrolling on our phones. However, sitting on the toilet for prolonged periods can create strain in your body and build up pressure on the pelvic floor and anus. This pressure can aggravate any hemorrhoids you already have and even risk causing new flare-ups. Cut the time you spend on the toilet by eating a fiber-rich diet and drinking lots of water. Regular, easy bowel movements will reduce the amount of time you feel the need to sit on the toilet and help promote quick healing and relief from hemorrhoids.
6. Keep Your Lower Body Dry and Cool
Moisture can irritate any skin with prolonged exposure, but this is especially true for sensitive areas of the body. As such, it’s essential to ensure that your anal area is kept dry to reduce the likelihood of added irritation from moisture. It’s also a good practice to keep the affected area cool to slow down swelling and reduce perspiration, moisture, and added irritation. You can keep your body both cool and dry by wearing light, loose and breathable clothing while applying a cool ice pack treatment until swelling goes down.
As discussed, Doctor Butler’s memory foam seat cushion contains a unique built-in pocket and comes with gel packs that make hot and cold therapy to relieve swelling, itchiness, pain, and irritation easy.
Leave Hemorrhoid Pain Behind with Doctor Butler’s!
Now that you know the best sitting position for hemorrhoids is one in which your legs are slightly elevated using a body forming cushion or some other means, it should be noted that sitting for prolonged periods is still not recommended. Even in the best position possible, sitting for a long time can increase your risk for hemorrhoid flare-ups and aggravation and make your symptoms worse.
Break up your sitting by getting up and moving your body as often as possible. Set an alarm to go off each hour to remind you to get up and do a lap around your office or your home. Not only does this help to take the pressure off of the affected area, but you’ll also increase airflow, keeping the area dry and cool.
If you do have to sit, use one of the options we listed above to promote healing and reduce the symptoms of a hemorrhoid flare-up. Ensure you’re also treating your condition with natural remedies for hemorrhoids, hemorrhoid creams and ointments, sitz baths, and soothing wipes. Shop Doctor Butler’s many products specifically developed by a proctologist for hemorrhoid relief and healing, and you’ll be back to your regular self in no time.
As always, if your symptoms do not improve within 1-2 weeks then you should be evaluated by a physician. Regardless of your progress, everyone should seek the opinion of a local physician about colorectal cancer prevention.