An inguinal hernia is a lump in the groin. It might or might not be painful. Sometimes it needs to be repaired by surgery.
What is an inguinal hernia?
A hernia is where a part of the body protrudes through an abnormal opening in another part of the body, and gets into a space where it doesn’t normally sit.
If you have an inguinal hernia, there is a weakness in the muscles at the lower part of your abdomen. Some of the contents of your abdomen have pushed through.
The hernia might be large or it might be small. It usually gets bigger when you cough. It might be painful or it might not.
Inguinal hernias are common in children, especially in babies under 6 months. They usually need treating with an operation in children.
How is an inguinal hernia diagnosed?
Your doctor will talk to you and examine your groin. You will probably be asked to cough. You might be asked to have an ultrasound of the groin.
Treatment of inguinal hernia
Most people will be advised to have surgery as this will reduce the main problem with an inguinal hernia – the hernia might trap the part of the bowel that is poking through the muscles at the lower part of your abdomen.
If you have a hernia that traps the part poking through, it soon becomes painful. If you have an inguinal hernia and you have severe abdominal pain, or if your abdomen is red or tender, go to your nearest emergency department.
If you are overweight, losing weight might help. If you smoke, quitting is important.
Last reviewed: February 2018