Groin hernia signs & symptoms

Some people are not even aware they have a groin hernia, or inguinal hernia, until they visit their doctor for a routine exam. Many times, the hernia doesn't show any signs or symptoms that it even exists. A person may notice a bulge in his groin area when standing up.

This bulge is caused by a protruding intestine and a person needs to seek medical treatment for it. Here is information pertaining to the signs, symptoms, causes and treatments for a hernia of the groin.

Symptoms in Adults

Sometimes a groin hernia will show no signs that it's even there until you stand up and notice a bulge, or else cough or strain. A person suffering a groin hernia will more than likely notice this bulge on either side of their pubic bone. You may also notice pain in the area of the groin when coughing, lifting or bending over. There is usually a dragging or feeling of heaviness in the groin area. Men are more likely to develop this type of hernia than women. Sometimes the protruding intestine falls into the scrotum. If this happens, the hernia is called a inguinal-scrotal hernia. Sometimes, there will be pain and swelling in the scrotum and testicles. Women are more likely to develop a hernia in the femoral canal due to a weakness there. They will generally notice the bulge, as well as other painful symptoms while doing small tasks.

Symptoms in Children

Most groin hernias in children are caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall. In fact, it's estimated that 5 out of every 100 children will suffer from a hernia of the groin. In a small child, the hernia may make its presence known when the child coughs, cries, or is straining during a normal bowel movement. In older children, the hernia will become apparent while the child is standing, during coughing or straining, as well as during a normal bowel movement.


Most groin hernias are caused because of a weakening and increased pressure in the abdominal wall. Though some groin hernias seems to have no apparent cause at all, most hernias that develop in children are caused because the abdominal lining doesn't close properly at birth. Hernias that develop later in life are thought to be caused by a weakening in the abdominal wall due to ageing, abdominal operations, intense and chronic coughing, or doing intense physical activity that causes straining in the area.


Groin hernias can grow larger over time if left untreated. These hernias can cause pressure and become painful in the areas surrounding it. If left untreated in a man, these hernias will extend into the scrotum and testicles, causing swelling and pain. A hernia left untreated can cause a loop of the intestine to become trapped in the abdominal wall were the hernia began. This can cause pain and obstruct bowel movement to the point you are unable to have one or even pass gas. It can also cause nausea and vomiting. This is a serious condition because the trapped intestine will have its blood flow cut off, causing that part of the tissue to die. When this happens, it's called a strangulation of the intestine and is life-threatening. Surgery is required as soon as possible.


If you are born with a weakening in the abdominal wall, there's not much you can do to prevent a groin hernia from happening. There are things you can do to reduce straining your abdominal muscles. Try to maintain a healthy weight to put less strain on this area. Adding fibre to your diet will decrease the need to strain during a bowel movement. Be careful and use care when having to lift something heavy; remember to bend from your knees when lifting. Since smoking can cause chronic coughing, stop. Wearing a truss will not fix the hernia. It may bring comfort for a short period of time, but the injury will still be there.


Most of the time the doctor will find the hernia by doing a simple physical exam. If the hernia isn't causing you discomfort and is relatively small, the doctor may just wait and watch the hernia. If the hernia is enlarged and causing you extreme pain, surgery is the only option available in fixing it. The two surgeries that are available to repair a groin hernia are herniorrhaphy and hernioplasty.