It makes sense: your backside is in pain when you sit, so a cushion that keeps your tush in the air should do the trick. Right? Wrong! While many people hear “hemorrhoid cushion” and immediately think of a donut pillow, the big hole in the middle isn’t doing you or your hemorrhoids any favors. Attempting to utilize at-home care for symptom relief is a great step, but it’s important that your short-term solutions aren’t causing long-term problems. Read on to learn why donut cushions for hemorrhoids are anything but sweet.
Who are we? We’re Doctor Butler’s, experts in down-there care of hemorrhoids and related conditions. We make proctologist-developed hemorrhoid ointments and complementary products to help you quickly leave the pain behind. Dr. Robert Cutler medically reviews all of the information here.
What Is a Donut Pillow?
A donut pillow takes its name from its shape, a round cushion with a large hole cut out in the center. It can also be referred to as a ring pillow and is typically made out of memory, gel or “egg crate” foam or inflatable rubber for portable use.
How Is a Donut Pillow Used for Hemorrhoids?
They’re not! Or at least, they shouldn’t be. A donut pillow can be a useful tool for specific medical or pain relief needs, but we do not recommend it as part of any hemorrhoid treatment plan. Instead, use a purpose made cushion like our hemorrhoid cushion.
If you still want to know how donut pillows work for non-hemorrhoid related conditions, here you go. By resting each buttock evenly on the outer ring of a donut pillow, leaning forward slightly then removes pressure from the tailbone. As a result, these pillows are particularly helpful when recovering from surgery or injury to your tailbone. They can aid in correcting posture or as a way to ease pain caused by long periods of sitting on a hard surface. And while they are good for all of that, they are not made for long term hemorrhoid relief.
Using a Donut Pillow Alongside Other Hemorrhoid Treatments
First things first, a donut pillow is not a hemorrhoid pillow. While a donut pillow is often mislabeled as a hemorrhoid pillow, it is not a cushion for hemorrhoids. So while you can use any kind of hemorrhoid treatment you you want alongside a donut pillow, the shape of the pillow is going to work against you instead of with you.
A more appropriate pillow for hemorrhoid relief is one that provides full support. A proper hemorrhoid pillow is shaped to relieve pressure from your perineum (not your tailbone) by evenly distributing the weight between your lower back and legs. A standard seat cushion or even bed pillow can lead your body to this naturally supportive position, or try our purpose-made memory foam seat cushion which targets pressure reduction specific to hemorrhoids.
How Effective Are Donut Pillows? Claimed Benefits vs Reality
Donut pillows are popular for good reason. They’re an affordable option for providing pain relief in certain medical scenarios. For people who do not suffer from frequent hemorrhoid flare-ups, they may prove an acceptable remedy should you incur one of these scenarios. But a donut pillow is not appropriate for hemorrhoids and it may cause more harm than good.
We will evaluate donut vs. hemorrhoid pillows on a couple different aspects, including:
- Pain Relief
- Improved Blood Flow
- Reduced Pressure
- Better Posture
- & Ease of Use
Donut pillows are often touted as a means for stopping common symptoms of hemorrhoid sufferers, most notably pain while sitting. While they may provide temporary comfort, elevating only your rectum and pelvic floor means those areas incur additional weight and pressure. We know extra pressure can cause hemorrhoids, which is why the design of a donut pillow is ultimately flawed for hemorrhoid care.
The typical purposes of a donut pillow include:
- Prevention and treatment of sores
- Back pain
- Spinal injury
- Tailbone injury
Improved Blood Flow
Too much pressure on the rectum increases blood flow dramatically, causing the hemorrhoid veins to swell, irritating the anal region. Restoring blood flow to these veins at a regulated pace helps encourage hemorrhoids to heal. Using a donut cushion for hemorrhoids does the opposite, increasing pressure onto the pelvic region triggering the condition that causes hemorrhoids.
Both donut pillows and hemorrhoid pillows were designed with the main goal of relieving the pressure placed on our lower body when we sit by utilizing different means of support. The donut pillow uses a cut-out design to spread weight outward to the buttocks and off the tailbone, pushing weight onto the perineum and ultimately your hemorrhoid veins. Just as we’re told to avoid sitting on the toilet for too long in order to prevent hemorrhoids, keep in mind that donut pillows share this same shape.
Your posture while sitting can negatively affect your hemorrhoids. That difficulty in maintaining good posture has only grown as we continue to spend more and more of our days sitting down. The tendency to curl up while seated puts weight onto our lower back and decreases blood flow to the legs.
While a donut pillow may help stop yourself from curling your spine, it does so without addressing any of the other problems caused by sitting, and worse, redistributes weight so that it’s directly impacting your hemorrhoid veins. Instead, you should use a cushion that directly supports the perineum and elevates the legs thus reducing pressure on anorectal region.
Easy to Use
Donut pillows are an easy, affordable at-home tool for recovery from the injuries and painful flare-ups they are designed to address. But as we’ve said, they’re not designed to address hemorrhoids. For hemorrhoid relief you should opt for one of our patented cushions, or try out a seat cushion or pillow you may already have around the house.
The best sitting positions for hemorrhoids emphasize pressure relief from your pelvic floor and distribute your weight evenly when seated. Whether you use our purpose made cushion or a regular household pillow, both can successfully serve as a hemorrhoid pillow. The benefit of our cushion is that it includes a built in pocket to use hot and cold gel packs to provide relief while improving your posture.
Research On the Effectiveness of Donut Pillows for Hemorrhoids
Research on donut pillows is typically limited to their effectiveness in redistributing pressure for spinal or tailbone injuries or following surgery. The research on effective relief from hemorrhoids is abundant, and there is a reason that donut pillows are absent from such literature. Research confirms that the type of pressure donut pillows place on hemorrhoids increases the very blood flow that causes those veins to swell in the first place.
Risks and Side Effects of Using a Donut Pillow for Hemorrhoids
It may be tempting to grab a donut pillow for temporary relief, because anything that stops the symptoms of a hemorrhoid flare-up must be working, right? Not so fast! Temporary relief is great, but when it’s causing long term damage, it’s far from a fix. A pillow that evenly distributes your weight off of the rectal area and away from your hemorrhoid veins prevents the risks and side effects of using a hemorrhoid pillow donut cushion while offering the same pain relief benefits.
Should You Be Using a Donut Pillow?
No! As experts in hemorrhoids, we can confidently say donut pillows are not recommended for use with hemorrhoids. That’s why we made our uniquely designed cushion! As you’ve read, the only thing donut cushions accomplish is putting a barrier between your swollen bottom and a hard seat. While this may seem like a plus, the shape of donut pillows puts more strain where you need it the least when you have a flare up.
Memory foam seat cushions better help with posture and lift pressure off the perineum. They are the better recommended shape and material for hemorrhoid relief. Ours combines pressure support with gel packs and a pocket perfectly positioned to relieve hemorrhoid pain and swelling.
Effective Hemorrhoid Help From Doctor Butler’s
Donut pillows are an especially misleading option for hemorrhoids, as they appear to provide the relief that patients are seeking from painful symptoms. But at what cost? Cushions marketed as “hemorrhoid donut pillows” focus on the temporary management of pain at the expense of long term recovery. Doctor Butler’s memory foam seat cushion is a proctologist-designed solution to ease pain in the present and help aid with at-home treatment and prevention that lasts.