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An inguinal hernia (pronounced IN-gwuh-nul HER-nee-uh) is when part of your intestine pushes through a weak spot in your lower belly (abdominal) wall. This area is called the groin. The hernia creates a lump in your groin. Over time, the hernia may get bigger.
Most inguinal hernias, even large ones, can be made smaller and pushed back into your belly using gentle massage and pressure.
There are 2 types of inguinal hernias: indirect and direct.
An inguinal hernia can happen at any age.
You are at greater risk for an inguinal hernia if you:
Some activities may also raise your risk for an inguinal hernia. These include:
Some inguinal hernias are painful while others don’t cause any pain.
Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
In severe cases, the intestine is partly or fully blocked. Symptoms in severe cases may also include:
The symptoms of an inguinal hernia may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.
Your healthcare provider will likely be able to tell that you have an inguinal hernia by looking at your past health and giving you a physical exam.
During the physical exam, he or she will try to push the hernia back into your belly.
You may also have imaging tests including:
An inguinal hernia will not heal on its own. If you have symptoms or the hernia is growing, you may need surgery.
There are 2 types of surgery for an inguinal hernia: traditional open hernia repair (called herniorrhaphy) or laparoscopic hernia repair.
Inguinal hernias that are not causing any symptoms can be closely watched. If symptoms occur, your surgeon can repair the hernia through open surgery or laparoscopic surgery.Some surgeons recommend repair of all groin hernias in women. This is because it can be difficult to tell an inguinal hernia from a more complicated type of hernia (femoral hernia) in women.
You will need surgery right away if your small intestine gets stuck in the groin (incarcerated hernia) or if blood supply to your small intestine is blocked (strangulated hernia).
In some cases a hernia may come back after surgery. This is less likely to happen when mesh is used to support the weak belly muscles.
An inguinal hernia can lead to other problems such as:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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