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What Is an Inguinal Hernia?

An inguinal hernia happens when part of your intestine pushes through a weak spot in your lower belly, or groin area. The hernia creates a soft lump under the skin. Over time, this lump in your groin may get bigger. “Because an inguinal hernia will not heal on its own, early detection is crucial,” says surgeon T. Daniel Harrison, DO, with LVPG General and Bariatric Surgery.

Recognize your risk factors

You can get an inguinal hernia at any age, but you are at greater risk of developing an inguinal hernia if you:

  • Are male

  • Are obese

  • Are a pregnant woman

  • Are a smoker

  • Experience long-term (chronic) coughing

  • Strain during bowel movements

  • Have a family history of inguinal hernias

Be aware of your symptoms

Each person’s symptoms may vary. Some inguinal hernias are painful, while others don’t cause any pain. Other symptoms may include:

  • A lump in the groin or the scrotum

  • A burning feeling in the lump

  • Pain or pressure in the groin that gets worse when you cough, strain, lift or exercise

  • Steady, growing pain if the blood supply to the bulging part of the intestine is cut off (called a strangulated hernia)

In severe cases, the intestine is partly or fully blocked and you may experience nausea, vomiting or lack of hunger.

Understand your treatment options

If you have symptoms or the hernia is growing, you may need surgery to repair it. Generally, there are two types of surgery for inguinal hernias: traditional open hernia repair or laparoscopic hernia repair. LVHN Institute for Special Surgery also offers minimally invasive robotic surgery.

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of a hernia and treatment options, join our surgical experts for an upcoming free hernia screening and information session. LVHN.org/herniascreening