Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when menstruation comes to an end. Health professionals define menopause as 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual period. Unfortunately menopause often comes with some unfavourable characteristics, one of which is haemorrhoids. Swelling and dilation around the veins of the anal region causes haemorrhoids. In some circumstances, haemorrhoids can bleed. Due to the increased susceptibility of developing haemorrhoids during menopause, women have a greater risk of experiencing bleeding haemorrhoids.
Although haemorrhoids can occur at any age, approximately 1/2 of all women will experience them by age 50, according to menopauserx.com, which is around the average age of menopausal onset in the United States. A woman’s susceptibility to experiencing bleeding haemorrhoids during menopause can be increased from various conditions including prior childbirth, chronic constipation, prolonged sitting and the ageing process, which includes going through menopause. One strong theory of the cause of haemorrhoids is varicose veins, which are also a result of the ageing process.
There are two types of haemorrhoids: external and internal. It is the internal haemorrhoids that are the most common cause of bleeding. Internal haemorrhoids lie above the dentate line, which separates the anal canal from the rectum. They are typically painless except if the vein is disturbed during a bowel movement. Although they lie within the anal canal, they may develop inflammation and become enlarged enough to project through the anal opening. Internal haemorrhoids also frequently leave individuals with a feeling that they did not completely empty their bowels during a bowel movement. External haemorrhoids, which lie below the dentate line, can result in extreme pain. Occasionally, a thrombosis--a blood clot formed by a dilated vein--can occur on the external haemorrhoid. When this occurs, the external haemorrhoid becomes hard and may be ulcerated to produce bleeding.
Symptoms vary depending on what type of haemorrhoid the woman has. Internal bleeding haemorrhoids are associated with rectal blood that appears bright red and leaves streaks on toilet paper during wiping and in the toilet bowl following a bowel movement. The stool may also have a bloody, mucus-like consistency. Internal bleeding haemorrhoids that become irritated and inflamed cause the feeling of having to pass stool even after a bowel movement has occurred. Common symptoms of external bleeding haemorrhoids include severe pain and blood stains in the underwear.
Treatment for bleeding haemorrhoids during menopause varies. Suppositories, creams, natural remedies and surgery are all treatment options. A large selection of creams can be purchased over the counter to be used on external bleeding haemorrhoids. Suppositories are used for internal bleeding haemorrhoids but typically only treat pain and itching, not bleeding. Some women decide to use natural remedies such as topical herbs. On average, natural methods take longer to be effective but are just as successful as other treatment methods. Excessive haemorrhoid bleeding may require surgical methods of treatment. Banding is the most popular surgical technique. In this method, a rubber band is used to tie off the affected vein, thus preventing the blood supply from reaching it. Without adequate blood supply, the haemorrhoid will shrink and die. Another popular surgical technique is laser surgery. In this method, the vein is cauterised to avert the flow of blood to the haemorrhoid.
A Common Mistake
During the beginning of menopause and before the complete cessation of the menstrual period, many women experience sporadic menstrual bleeding. This often results in mistaking hemorrhoidal bleeding for menstrual bleeding. It is imperative for all women to know where their bleeding is coming from to recognise the existence of bleeding haemorrhoids. Whereas menstrual bleeding comes from the vagina, blood from haemorrhoids comes from the anal canal. There are still many other possible causes of bleeding during menopause, some of which can be life-threatening. In any circumstance, a woman should visit her doctor if she is experiencing bleeding of any kind.