There’s no easy way to acknowledge that your butthole is bleeding, so it’s no surprise that plenty of us flock to online forums and search engines to learn how to manage hemorrhoids. As a result, the internet is flooded with rumors — one of which is that anal sex can cause these little lumps to flourish. So, does it check out?
First, some quick myth-busting. All of us have hemorrhoidal venous cushions, which are basically tiny airbags found in the lower part of your rectum and anus. These “anal cushions” protect the sphincter when you poop by expanding with blood, essentially stopping your butthole from tearing. However, they can become swollen or irritated — and that’s when these handy cushions become “hemorrhoids.”
There are a few symptoms to look out for, including tiny bumps around your butthole and occasional droplets of blood and slimy mucus when you dump. This might sound unpleasant, but more of us go through this ordeal than you might think — according to medical research, 75 percent of Americans will experience hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.
Annoyingly, everything from too much exercise to too much sitting down can irritate your butthole and subsequently trigger hemorrhoids. To the chagrin of bottoms worldwide, anal sex can definitively be added to this list.
Thankfully, butthole experts like Evan Goldstein, an anal surgeon with decades of experience and a butt-based practice called Bespoke Surgical, know exactly what’s going on downstairs, as well as how to help. “I’ve heard multiple doctors say you can’t get hemorrhoids from anal,” he tells me. “That’s absolute bullshit. Your body doesn’t know if you’re taking it up the ass or doing squats at the gym. Hemorrhoids are caused by pressure, and anal sex makes your body sense pressure just like anything else.”
Let’s say, then, you do have a hemorrhoid flare-up. The key question is: Can you still fuck? “You can try,” Goldstein continues. “But what happens is that the extra skin where the hemorrhoid is gets pushed and pulled during sex, which can make it even more swollen and irritated.”
His advice? Before you have anal sex with a partner, try a sex toy, slathered liberally in lube, first. That’ll tell you if there’s any pain or bleeding from your hemorrhoid that might make sex uncomfortable.
It doesn’t have to get to that point, though, and there are a few troubleshooting tips to reduce the risk and make your anal experience smoother on the whole. According to Goldstein, the best advice isn’t to skimp on lube and to be cautious of over-douching. “Douching is one of the main issues actually, because you wind up risking irritation,” he says (in fact, he’s written many blog posts on how to avoid this fate). And if, despite these precautions, hemorrhoids continue to be a literal pain in your ass, don’t worry — there are plenty of ways (from surgery to Botox) to treat them.
So it’s news — and pain — you definitely don’t have to take sitting down.