Can Stress Cause Hemorrhoids?

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated April 29, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

While stress can impact mental health and well-being, it can also have unintended and unconventional effects on physical health. In some cases, unmanaged stress may lead to conditions that cause chronic pain and inflammation. 

Physical effects of stress might include high blood pressure, chest pain, insomnia, and stomach pain. However, some people may also wonder whether hemorrhoids are a symptom. Understanding the research on this condition may be beneficial if you’re experiencing hemorrhoids or worried about developing them.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Explore stress management alongside a compassionate professional

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are inflamed varicose veins lining the rectum. These blood vessels may enlarge on or near the anus due to extended periods of pushing or straining during bowel movements. Varicose veins can develop when people stand in a single position for too long, and hemorrhoids can develop when your sphincter muscles are engaged for extended periods, leading to inflammation. 

One of the first signs of hemorrhoids may be pain during bowel movements. Since hemorrhoids often occupy a significant area of the outer and inner anus, the pain may range from mild to severe. Regardless of the severity, these vessels can lead to pain, burning, itching, and potential bleeding. 

If you have difficulty using the bathroom, are experiencing extreme pain, or are concerned about pain in your rectum, consult your medical doctor for further guidance and potential treatment options. 

Can stress cause hemorrhoids?

Stress is not directly responsible for hemorrhoids. However, hemorrhoids can be brought on by bowel distress, which may be caused by stress. Keeping your bowel movements steady and consistent can be an effective way to keep hemorrhoids at bay or to treat an already-existing condition.

Although stress does not directly contribute to hemorrhoids, it is related to digestive distress, which can lead to the development of hemorrhoids. Although hemorrhoids are treatable and may not represent a danger to your overall health, they can be painful and embarrassing, and many people report feeling scared, embarrassed, or isolated due to the presence of hemorrhoids.

How do you treat hemorrhoids? 

Pain while seated, having bowel movements, or having sex can signal the presence of hemorrhoids. These inflamed veins can often be treated with over-the-counter medications and natural remedies, like creams. The root cause of hemorrhoids, such as constipation, may be valuable to address. Constipation can often be remedied by changing or improving dietary habits.

If dietary interventions are not enough to ward off digestive woes, stress-reduction efforts might control these symptoms. Since stress can wreak havoc on anyone’s digestive system, struggling to put efforts into improving the adverse effects of stress could mean future hemorrhoids. 

Some methods to relieve stress include lifestyle changes, stress-management techniques, and therapy. These methods may help you develop a consistent routine designed to improve your response to stress and your ability to give your body rest to work productively, including correctly digesting and eliminating your food.

Hemorrhoids might not initially seem like a common cause of anxiety. However, any condition that begins in the gut could be related to anxiety, as your gut health can be heavily predicated on your body’s ability to handle stress effectively. 

What are the connections between stress and the body? 

The human body’s stress response is a survival mechanism. When stress occurs in your body, your heart and respiratory rates increase, your muscles grow tense, and you may feel on high alert, ready to jump to action at a moment’s notice. This response is biologically based and automatic. However, problems may arise when your stress response is chronic or does not have a healthy outlet. 

When animals experience a stress response, you might see them shake or exhibit symptoms of excess energy, such as running, jumping, or making noise. These responses are natural, as a flood of adrenalin occurs within the body and causes the fight-flight-freeze response. 

The cardiovascular system 

Persistent high blood pressure and elevated heart rates can lead to heart disease, attack, and failure, which can overexert the heart as a muscle. If stress has occurred for several months or years, your heart may have already been affected. However, talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about heart health. 

The brain 

Your brain can also be negatively impacted biologically as elevated stress hormones alter your body’s ability to produce optimal mood-normalizing hormones. This process can lead to the development of mood and anxiety disorders, altered blood sugar patterns, and altered dopamine and serotonin levels—each of which can negatively affect your sleep patterns. 

The digestive system 

Stress can also impact your digestive system, leading to an overactive digestive system with increased stomach cramps and diarrhea or an underactive digestive system with uncomfortable gas and constipation. Both ends can prove problematic for your overall health and immune system, and many hormonal processes reside in your gut. Extended periods of constipation can invite other unwelcome conditions, including hemorrhoids.


Hemorrhoid risk factors

Those with a gynecological reproductive system are at a greater risk for developing hemorrhoids, particularly if the person has given birth. Since the pushing involved in childbirth can mimic the strain on the sphincter during a strained bowel movement, hemorrhoids can develop immediately following birth. Untreated, these can continue to inflame.

Low-fiber diets have consistently been linked to hemorrhoids. Fiber-rich diets can normalize and encourage healthy bowel movements, so diets high in unhealthy fats, processed ingredients, and inorganic sugars can contribute to the onset and proliferation of hemorrhoids in otherwise-healthy individuals.

As many as 50% of all adults have had hemorrhoids at one point in their lives, so it is not an uncommon or unusual condition. It is, however, one that may require medical treatment for symptoms like discomfort. Going without treatment could result in increased discomfort, increased bleeding from the rectum, and the possibility of contracting infections. 

How to manage stress

Stress reduction could be a step in reducing the chances of hemorrhoid complications. Below are a few techniques you can try to address both stress and hemorrhoid pain. 

Reduce stressors in your life 

It may be beneficial to reduce some of the stressors in your life to reduce the chances of hemorrhoids and other inflammations. The total reduction of stress might not be possible if the most significant source of stress is your sole source of income or a relationship you don’t want to leave. However, there may be boundaries you can set and steps you can take to minimize stressful situations, such as daily meditation practice or yoga. 

Try therapy 

Stress might also be alleviated by using therapy. Therapists can help you develop effective stress-management techniques to keep your body and brain’s stress responses healthy, consistent, and positive. Rather than engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms, impulsivity, or health neglect, speaking with a licensed therapist can remind you to pay attention to what you’re experiencing. 

Address your hemorrhoids 

The symptoms that occur with your hemorrhoids might cause continued stress. Upping fiber intake, including a more robust repertoire of fruits and vegetables, and focusing on high-quality whole grains can potentially reduce constipation. Water intake can also be a factor in treating hemorrhoids, as dehydration can cause constipation. 

If dietary changes do not relieve symptoms of constipation, topical creams may reduce inflammation. In addition, you can try warm baths, careful cleaning, and the use of a bidet following a bowel movement. Taking over-the-counter pain medication might also resolve pain issues caused by hemorrhoids, and cold compresses can help shrink inflamed vessels to their proper size. If you continue to experience complications after these home remedies, consider speaking to your primary care provider. 

Explore stress management alongside a compassionate professional

Counseling options 

Stress management therapy is one way to simultaneously address your mental and physical health. However, if you’re stressed about adding another in-person appointment to your schedule, it may be difficult to reduce these symptoms. In these cases, an online platform like BetterHelp can connect you with a therapist who specializes in stress-related areas.  

Online therapy may reduce your anxiety and stress, as you won’t have to worry about long commute times, parking, waiting lists, or finding a provider who accepts your insurance. Online therapy has been found more affordable and convenient than traditional options and offers flexibility in ways that in-person therapy might not. 

A recent publication looked at how effective internet mental healthcare could be in reducing stress related to physical health. The publication examined 17 studies examining whether mindfulness or relaxation-based tactics were efficient. The authors found that more than half of the studies reported positive effects on general health, stress, depression, or anxiety.

Counselor reviews

“This was my first time experiencing counseling, and Mr. Santaella immediately hit the nail on the head with the issues I’ve been dealing with. His suggestions and guidance was really helpful and many things he said to me will stick with me for a very long time. He made me change how I think about work and my mental and physical health and helped me see the connection between those two.” Read more on Jorge Santaella.

“Tracy Hollingsworth has played an instrumental role in my constant journey to care for myself mentally and physically. She has a great sense of humor which I love and is extremely creative in her approach to offer strategies for things I struggle with in my life, especially during COVID when EVERYTHING is constantly changing. I struggle with my motivation, mood swings, anxiety and sometimes my relationships with people. When I feel a ‘mood; coming on I can often use some of the tools Tracy has taught me so that I don’t fall deeper into one of my moods that in the past would have destroyed my entire day or even week. I always feel awesome after a session with her no matter how I felt starting the session!” Read more about Tracy Hollingworth.


Stress management can be a beneficial skill to learn as you navigate life. While stress may not directly cause hemorrhoids, research shows it can indirectly cause hemorrhoids to develop or flare up. Since unaddressed stress can cause physical and mental health declines, consider connecting with a therapist when it occurs. A therapist can be a compassionate guiding force in your life as you address changes, goals, and future hopes for your health.

Ease stress and mental exhaustion
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started