Thumbnail image of: Groin Hernia: Illustration

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.

What is the cause?

A hernia may be caused by anything that makes the bowel 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. It may also happen after you have had surgery to your lower belly.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms you may have are:

  • Pain in your lower belly or groin, especially when you are moving or straining
  • A lump in your lower belly or groin that you can push back in
  • A burning, aching, or heavy feeling in your lower belly
  • A swollen or enlarged scrotum in men or boys

A lump that cannot be pushed back can be a very bad problem. It can mean that part of your bowel is trapped in the gap in your belly muscles. Then blood cannot get to that part of your bowel and part of the bowel may die. Or bowel movement might be blocked and not able to move through the trapped bowel. This is an emergency and can be life threatening.

How is it treated?

The main treatment is surgery to repair the opening in the muscle wall. Your healthcare provider will close the weak spot. Your provider may 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.
  • Follow safe practices when you move heavy things. Learn how to lift and move heavy items safely.
  • Ask your provider if you need a groin support.
  • Try to keep a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Try not to get constipated: Eat healthy foods that are high in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like bran, shredded wheat, and oatmeal. Drink plenty of water. Take stool softeners if needed.
  • Don’t smoke. This will help prevent coughing. Coughing can put pressure on your belly muscles. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to quit smoking.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-15
Last reviewed: 2014-12-15
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.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

Patient Portal

Our Patient Portal provides safe and secure online access to better communicate with your Tufts Medical Center Community Care doctor. This easy-to-use web tool is a convenient way to book appointments, request referrals, renew prescriptions, view medical records/test results and communicate with your healthcare provider from the privacy of your own computer.