When tissue, such as the intestine, protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall, an inguinal hernia occurs. This bulge can be painful, especially when you bend over, cough, or lift a heavy object. This type of a hernia isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it can lead to life-threatening complications.


  • A bulge in the area on either side of your pubic bone, which becomes more apparent when you're upright, especially if you cough
  • A burning or aching sensation at the bulge
  • Pain or discomfort in your groin, especially when bending over, coughing, or lifting
  • A heavy or dragging sensation in your groin
  • Weakness or pressure in your groin
  • Occasional pain and swelling in the testicles when the protruding intestine descends into the scrotum

While you are lying down, you should be able to push the hernia back into your abdomen. Also, applying an ice pack to the affected area can reduce swelling so the hernia can easily slide in.

Incarcerated Hernia

If you are unable to push the hernia back in, the contents can be trapped in the abdominal wall. An incarcerated hernia can become strangulated which means that the blood flow to the trapped tissue is cut off. Signs and symptoms of a strangulated hernia include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or both
  • Fever
  • Sudden pain that quickly intensifies
  • A hernia bulge that turns red, purple, or dark
  • Inability to move your bowels or pass gas


Some of these hernias don’t have an exact cause. Others might occur as a result of:

  • Increased pressure within the abdomen
  • A pre-existing weak spot in the abdominal wall
  • A combination of increased pressure within the abdomen and a pre-existing weak spot in the abdominal wall
  • Straining during bowel movements or urination
  • Strenuous activity
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic coughing or sneezing

Risk Factors

  • Being male
  • Being older
  • Being white
  • Family history
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic constipation
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature birth and low birth weight
  • Previous inguinal hernia or hernia repair


If your hernia is small and doesn’t bother you, then your doctor may suggest watchful waiting. Painful and enlarging hernias usually require surgery to relieve discomfort or prevent possible complications. The two most common types of hernia operations are:

Open hernia repair: During this procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in your groin so that the protruding tissue can be pushed back into your abdomen. Then, the surgeon sews the weakened area and closes it with stitches, staples, or glue.

Laparoscopy: This surgery consists of several small incisions being made in your abdomen. Gas is then used to inflate the abdomen so that the internal organs are easier to see. The surgeon uses small equipment guided by a camera to repair the hernia. Even though laparoscopic repair might cause less discomfort and scarring after surgery, hernia recurrence is more likely with laparoscopic repair than with open surgery.


  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Emphasize high-fiber foods
  • Lift heavy objects carefully or avoid heavy lifting
  • Stop smoking
  • Don't rely on a truss