7 Subtle Signs You’ve Had Hemorrhoids But Didn’t Actually Realize It

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Dealing with an issue in your bum area can feel awkward and embarrassing, and you may even be hesitant to speak with anyone about it. But problems in this area can signs of hemorrhoids, and you may even be exhibiting some subtle symptoms without even realizing it. Hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum, occurs in three out of four adults in their lifetime, so if you have any unexplained symptoms in your behind, there's a good chance they could be explained by this pesky condition.

"Irritation or inflammation of the hemorrhoids generally occurs with straining, a change in bowel habits (whether constipation or diarrhea), or spending too much time in a squatted position on the toilet," gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD MSCI tells Bustle. "Whether you're bearing down to lift that barbell or because you're trying to push out a baby, any increase in abdominal pressure runs the risk of exacerbating these private piles. There are hemorrhoids inside the rectum and also external ones hiding below the surface of the anus."

Typically, when the external hemorrhoids flare up, they're generally very painful since the anal area is densely carpeted with nerves, says Dr. Bulsiewicz. "On the flip side, internal hemorrhoids may be causing symptoms from the inside without you even realizing that they're there and creating problems."

Since hemorrhoids are so common, it's possible they have plagued you at least once in your life. Here are seven subtle signs you've had hemorrhoids but didn't actually realize it, according to experts.

1Anal Itching

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It may not be the most subtle symptom, but itching around the anus is a telltale sign of hemorrhoids. "Hemorrhoids can disrupt the anal barrier and allow microscopic leakage of rectal contents that dry out the anal area and cause extreme itching," says Dr. Bulsiewicz. "When this happens, nearly everyone does the same thing: cleans the area vigorously and excessively. The issue is that the opposite is actually the solution. Itching improves when you stop using soaps, detergents and wipes and allow the bottom to start producing it's natural oils to maintain the moisture of the tissue."

2Painless Bleeding When Going To The Bathroom

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Blood on your toilet paper can also be indicative of hemorrhoids. "Generally the bleeding will be painless and often times will continue to drip into the toilet bowl or get on the tissue paper, indicating that the anal canal is involved in the bleeding process," says Dr. Bulsiewicz. But if the bleeding becomes persistent, be sure to speak with your doctor.

3Difficulty Cleaning Your Bottom

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If you can't seem to get your butt clean, you might actually have hemorrhoids. "Loose hemorrhoid tissue makes anal cleaning very difficult," says Dr. Bulsiewicz. "It can constantly feel likes there's still more work to do."

4Skid Marks

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Hemorrhoids can lead to leakage, which could cause your underwear to end up with some unwanted stains. "You can't expect a door to close all the way if you put your foot in the door frame," says Dr. Bulsiewicz. "Similarly, how can you expect your anal canal to be competent and completely closed if there's a hemorrhoid sitting in the middle of it?"

5Incomplete Emptying Or Constipation

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Many people with hemorrhoid symptoms feel like they haven't completely emptied their bowls, or they feel constipated. "It's a vicious cycle because some people find the the hemorrhoids get in the way and make it difficult to completely empty the rectum," says Dr. Bulsiewicz. Because constipation can signify other things as well, if this symptom is reoccurring, it could be a good idea to see your doctor.

6Swelling

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Swelling in the anal area can occur as a result of too much straining. "Many people spend a long time every day on the toilet waiting or straining for their bowel movement," Navya Mysore, MDCM, CCFP, tells Bustle. "This can put undue pressure on the veins in the area and cause swelling and or irritation."

7Skin Tags

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If there's any excess skin in your anal area, it could be due to hemorrhoids. "Skin tags are associated with hemorrhoids which may be difficult to clean," gasteroenterologist Samantha Nazareth, MD, tells Bustle. "This leads to fecal material hanging around on the skin for longer than you'd like, and thus local irritation."

When in doubt, it's best to see a doctor who can determine whether or not you've had hemorrhoids, but if you're having symptoms in your behind, it may be a result of this condition.