(Inguinal Hernia—Adult; Femoral Hernia—Adult)
A groin hernia is tissue or fat that pushes through the abdominal wall. There are two types:
- Inguinal hernia (most common)—a bulge in the groin (or scrotal area in men)
- Femoral hernia—a bulge in the groin, upper thigh, or labia (in women)
A hernia can trap part of the intestine. This is called strangulation. It needs care right away.
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This problem is caused by a weakness in the muscles of the abdomen. It causes the tissues inside to press through and form a hernia.
Hernias are more common in men and older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Having a family history of hernia
- Having a low body mass index (BMI)
- Wear and tear on muscles of the abdomen from:
- Lifting heavy objects for a long time
- Chronic coughing
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Ascites—a buildup of fluid
- Prior abdominal surgery
- Peritoneal dialysis
- Medical conditions that affect muscles and blood vessels
Some people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have:
- A bulge in the groin when standing or straining
- A bulge in the upper thigh
- A bulge that goes into the scrotum in men or the labia in women
- Pain, heaviness, or discomfort in the groin, especially when straining
These serious symptoms may need care right away:
- Severe pain in the groin or belly
- Belly swelling
- Nausea and vomiting
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. It will focus on the groin. This may be enough to make the diagnosis. If the diagnosis is not clear, images may be taken. This can be done with:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
Treatment will depend on symptoms and the type of hernia. For inguinal hernias, the doctor may watch for any changes. Femoral hernias may cause problems, especially in women. They may need surgery right away. Surgery may also be done to repair a hernia that is causing symptoms.
There are no known guidelines to lower the risk of a groin hernia. Regular exercise may help to keep the abdominal muscles strong.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Institute for Health Information
Groin hernia in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/groin-hernia-in-adults-and-adolescents . Accessed January 7, 2021.
Groin hernia: inguinal and femoral repair. American College of Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.facs.org/~/media/files/education/patient%20ed/groin_hernia.ashx. Accessed January 7, 2021.
Inguinal hernia. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/inguinal-hernia. Accessed January 7, 2021.
Podolsky D , Novitsky Y. Robotic inguinal hernia repair. Surg Clin North Am. 2020 Apr;100(2):409-415.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 1/7/2021