Many people ask – exactly what are hemorrhoids?  They are a painful condition that affects millions of people throughout the world. Extensive research on the causes of hemorrhoids have led to the conclusion they are the result of increased and extended pressure on blood vessels (veins) in the rectal area.

Some of the more important hemorrhoids causes that produce the swelling and associated hemorrhoid symptoms are:

Straining in Bowel Movements
Straining during passing stool on toilet is now regarded as one of the main causes. This may be the result of more than one factor, namely a fiber deficient diet, and constipation. A fiber deficient diet (meat and refined foods) makes bowel movements hard, increasing pressure on the rectal veins. Constipation may result from various causes, more importantly from low intake of fluids (water and juices), overeating, and stress.

Appropriately cleaning the anal area after a bowel movement is important in preventing hemorrhoids. In effect, it means cleaning gently enough not to cause swelling of the rectal veins. The habit of wiping the bottom hard, and/or for too long, can be one of the hemorrhoids causes and may aggravate already existing hemorrhoids. Gentle wiping with a soft damp cloth or unscented white toilet paper is the recommended way of cleaning after a bowel movement.

Excess Weight
Obesity or excess weight can cause hemorrhoids .  Even without excess weight, sitting for several hours daily can put one at an increased risk of getting hemorrhoids.

Heavy Lifting and Strenuous Sports
Lifting heavy objects regularly as well as playing strenuous sports or high-stress exercises (e.g. weight lifting, mountain bike riding) will increase pressure on rectal veins.  This increased pressure increases the chance of getting hemorrhoids.

Pregnancy and Childbirth
One of the main causes of female hemorrhoids is pregnancy, as it puts a lot of pressure on the rectal veins.

Anal Sex
More recently, anal sex has been regarded as one of the causes of hemorrhoids and abstaining from anal sex is advised for preventing the development and/or aggravation of hemroids.