Every living person has hemorrhoids, which are simply veins in the wall of the lower rectum and anus.
However, enlarged hemorrhoids can cause a lot of discomfort, pain and embarrassment. It is a condition whereby the veins become painful, swollen, inflamed and may itch or bleed.
Does cycling cause hemorrhoids?
Riding a bicycle does not cause enlarged hemorrhoids. The link between them is indirect and we can say that in a person that already has enlarged hemorrhoids, cycling can be an aggravating factor that worsens the symptoms or makes latent symptoms to appear.
In the case where there is protrusion of internal hemorrhoids, there is friction (rubbing) between the bicycle seat and the hemorrhoids.
When a person who has swollen hemorrhoids sits on the bicycle seat for a long time, it will most likely cause a lot of discomfort and may actually cause more swelling because the blood flow to the anus and rectum is reduced.
The jolts in cycling, the reduced blood flow, and the hardness (and friction) of the bicycle seat all work together to irritate an existing external hemorrhoid and may cause more swelling, pain, itching and bleeding.
Even if the hemorrhoids are of the internal type and do not come into contact with the bicycle seat, sitting for long periods of time will still reduce the blood flow to the lower rectum and delay healing.
I use an exercise (stationary) bike, will my hemorrhoids worsen?
If you have enlarged hemorrhoids, using an exercise bike will lead to the same friction with external hemorrhoids and reduction of blood flow to the anus and rectum. Therefore, the hemorrhoids may get worse.
How to ride a bicycle when you have Hemorrhoids
For cycling enthusiasts or athletes that have hemorrhoids, the prospect of leaving their beloved sport - even for a week - is a real ordeal.
If you must ride your bicycle while you have hemorrhoids, consider wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear so that air can circulate well and any moisture can be absorbed. This will also reduce itching.
If you find that the hemorrhoids get worse with cycling no matter what you do, then maybe you should really take some time off cycling and allow the hemorrhoids to improve.
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