In this week's Sex IDK column, Emma McGowan, certified sex educator and writer, answers your questions about having sex when you have a hemorrhoid.
Q: Can I have sex when if I have a hemorrhoid?
Hemorrhoids are really common: According to the Mayo Clinic, three out of four adults will experience hemorrhoids from time to time. So, you’re in good company, Reader, and I want to give you a short answer before I dive into the details. Yes, you can have sex with a hemorrhoid! Absolutely, 100%. But let’s take a look at some of the factors you might want to consider.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your butt that can sometimes cause pain and discomfort. They’re basically like varicose veins that are in your rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or around your anus (external hemorrhoids). The internal ones usually don’t hurt, and you might only notice them if you see some blood in your bowel movements. The external ones, however, can cause pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Because hemorrhoids are caused by strain on the anus and rectum, your best bet for preventing them is avoiding things that strain your anus and rectum. That includes straining on the toilet or spending a long time there, lifting heavy things, and holding in your poop. Other prevention methods include eating a high-fiber diet or adding fiber supplements to your routine, drinking lots of water, and exercising a lot. And, yeah, having a bunch of anal sex can also lead to hemorrhoids.
Unfortunately, the risk of hemorrhoids increases both with age and with pregnancy, so there may be some times that you just can’t avoid them, even if you have the absolute best prevention habits. So, when do you get one? There are three general options for treatment: home remedies, medications, and surgery. But because you’re really asking about sex, Reader, and not a medical treatment, I’m going to refer you to the Mayo Clinic for an overview of what you can do to get rid of your hemorrhoids.
So, let’s talk about sex! If we’re talking about vaginal sex — aka penis or finger or sex toy in the vagina — you can inflame internal hemorrhoids if you’re really going for it hard. Experiment with different depths of penetration and positions to figure out what will work best for your body, but probably avoid deep penetration.
It’s a similar situation with oral sex, regardless of what genitals you have. Remember how hemorrhoids are caused and irritated by straining in the butt? If you’re pushing down on your pelvic floor or your anus really hard or you’re thrusting into your partner’s face, that could potentially put some strain on your hemorrhoids. But if you’re lying back and letting them do all the work, you’re less likely to irritate them. So, yes, you can have oral sex. You just have to be willing to take a more receptive role.
Of course, rimming — which is oral sex on the anus — is a whole other story when we’re talking about hemorrhoids. If you have internal hemorrhoids, it should be OK to rim because you’re focused primarily on the outside of the anus. But if you have external hemorrhoids, rimming might not be worth it because it could really hurt. If this is an activity you’re really into, you might want to try it out once and see how it feels. But you might want to consider abstaining until you’re healed, especially because any pain is a sign that it’s inflamed and might lead to longer healing time.
Finally, the one kind of sex you really shouldn’t have when you have any type of hemorrhoid is penetrative anal sex. That means no fingers; no toys; no penises. Anal sex — even with a lot of lube — put pressure on the anus and rectum muscles and can make your healing time much, much longer. (Not to mention more painful.) So eat your fiber, drink lots of water, and talk to your health care provider if it doesn’t go away soon.