Can I get hemorrhoids from sitting on a cold surface? If so, how can I reduce the swelling? -- Lester, 39, Green Bay, WI

No, you can’t get hemorrhoids by sitting on a cold surface—although sitting for extended periods of time on any kind of surface may make hemorrhoids more likely. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum. They may be located inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids).   Your risk of hemorrhoids is higher if you: strain during bowel movements; have chronic diarrhea or constipation; are obese; are pregnant; or engage in receptive anal intercourse.

Over-the-counter creams, ointments, suppositories or pads may provide temporary relief, but they shouldn’t be used long-term because they can be irritating or cause a rash.  Since hemorrhoids are unlikely to disappear on their own, the best bet is to see a doctor. There are many quick, minimally invasive techniques for eliminating hemorrhoids, which can provide permanent relief and reduce the chances of further problems.

Dr. Harry Fisch is a board certified urologist. He’s here to answer reader questions in an effort to get guys to “man up about health.”