A groin hernia occurs when abdominal tissue or fat pokes out through the abdominal wall. It causes a bulge in the groin area. There are two main types:
A hernia can trap a section of intestine, leading to blockage or problems with blood flow. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.
The abdominal wall wraps around your middle from the bottom of your ribs to your pelvis. It helps to contain and support your abdominal organs and tissue. When this area is weakened these internal tissues can press through can create the hernia. The weakness may be caused by a problem with the abdominal wall development before birth, injuries, or wear and tear of the muscles.
Groin hernias are more common in men and femoral hernias are more common in women.
Factors that increase your chance of abdominal wall weakness include:
Many times, there are no symptoms with groin hernia. In those that do have them, the symptoms may include:
More serious symptoms may need emergency care:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Imaging studies are only done if the diagnosis in not clear by physical exam.
Watchful waiting is an option for those with no symptoms. This means you and your doctor will monitor your hernia for growth or the appearance of more serious symptoms. In people with symptoms, hernias are repaired with surgery. The abdominal tissue will be pushed back in and the opening will be closed. Sometimes a mesh material will be placed to help support the area.
American College of Physicians
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Institute for Health Information
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Last reviewed June 2013 by Peter Lucas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.