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Groin Hernia: Brief Version

What is a groin hernia?

A hernia happens when a part of your bowel pushes through a weak area or gap in the muscles of your belly. It is called a groin hernia when it happens in the groin. The groin is the area where the legs join the lower body.

A groin hernia can become a serious problem if your bowel gets trapped in the gap. Then blood can’t get to that part of your bowel and that part may die. This can make you very sick.

What causes a groin hernia?

A hernia may be caused by anything that causes the bowel to push against a weak area in the belly. Some people are born with a weakness in their groin muscles. But a groin hernia can happen to anyone. It can happen when you:

  • lift heavy objects
  • cough or sneeze a lot
  • push too hard when you have a bowel movement
  • are overweight
  • are pregnant.

Men with a large prostate can sometimes get a hernia from pushing too hard to urinate.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms you may have are:

  • a lump in your lower belly or groin that you can push back in
  • pain in your lower belly or groin, especially when you are moving around
  • a lump that cannot be pushed back in.

A lump that cannot be pushed back in can be a very bad problem. The bowel may get caught in the gap. This could cut off its blood supply. Or bowel movement might be blocked and not able to move through the bowel. This is an emergency.

How is it treated?

The main treatment is surgery to repair the opening in the muscle wall. The surgeon closes the weak spot. Sometimes, before closing the skin, the surgeon will sew a piece of mesh over the weak spot and under the skin. This makes the area stronger.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
  • Ask your provider if you need a groin support.
  • Try not to get constipated: Eat healthy foods that are high in fiber, like bran and oatmeal. Drink plenty of water. Take stool softeners if needed. And get plenty of exercise as recommended by your provider.
  • Use laxatives or enemas only if your provider tells you to.
  • Don't smoke. This will help prevent coughing.

How can I prevent another groin hernia?

  • If you have to lift or move heavy things at your job, try to change your job duties.
  • Be careful when you move heavy things. Learn to lift, pull, or push things the right way. Ask your provider how much weight is OK for you to push or lift.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Eat healthy foods that have a lot of fiber to help prevent constipation.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-12-17
Last reviewed: 2010-12-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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