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The Differences Between Hernias in Men Versus Women

The Differences Between Hernias in Men Versus Women

Your abdominal wall is a thick band of muscle and connective tissue that protects your internal organs. While this wall is naturally strong, injury or degeneration can create a gap in the muscle. Organs, tissue, and fat push through that gap and create a hernia.

In general, hernias are labeled as a men’s health issue. It’s true that men are eight times more likely to get inguinal (groin) hernias than women are, but other types of hernias are actually more common in women than men.

No matter your gender, you should learn the signs of a hernia so you can get the care you need. Elvira Klause, MD, FACS, and our surgical team specialize in diagnosing and treating all types of hernias. 

In this blog, we take a closer look at the differences between hernias in men versus women.

Inguinal hernia: the most common hernia among men

Inguinal hernias are by far the most common hernia. This type of hernia forms when your intestines or other tissues push through a weak spot in your lower abdominal wall and into your groin.

An inguinal hernia creates a small, soft lump near your groin or scrotum. It generally appears on the right side, but some people get this hernia on the left side.

Approximately 27% of men develop inguinal hernias in their lifetimes. Around 3% of women get inguinal hernias.

One reason men are more susceptible to inguinal hernias is because they naturally have a small hole in their abdominal wall where blood vessels and the spermatic cord connect the testicles to the rest of the body.

The most common hernias in women

Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia, and they largely affect men. But most other hernias are actually more common in women.

Femoral hernia

Femoral hernias develop when abdominal organs or tissue protrude through a weak spot in the groin or upper thigh muscles. This type of hernia is more common among women because the female pelvis tends to be wider than a male pelvis.

A femoral hernia may be a small or medium-sized lump on either side of your groin. Like other hernias, it’s typically soft, and you may be able to push it around gently.

Umbilical hernia

Umbilical hernias form around your belly button. These hernias create a visible bulge in or next to your navel, and women are most often affected during and after pregnancy.

If you’re pregnant or you’ve had multiple pregnancies, your abdominal wall has been stretched. The process of pregnancy stresses the abdominal wall, and it can create a weak spot around your belly button where tissue can press through.

Hiatal hernia

Hiatal hernias form between your upper abdomen and your chest. This type of hernia occurs when part of your stomach pokes through a weak spot in your diaphragm.

Your risk of hiatal hernia increases with age. Hiatal hernias are common among men and women alike, but women are slightly more likely to get them than men. Your risk may also go up if you’re carrying excess weight.

Other types of hernias

There are a couple of other hernias that can affect both men and women. Epigastric hernias form above your belly button when upper abdominal organs protrude through your muscle wall. 

Incisional hernias can form due to complications following abdominal surgery. If you have a procedure like gastric bypass or a cesarean section, your incision may not fully heal, and your organs could push against the incision and create a hernia.

No matter your gender or your symptoms, you should never ignore a hernia. Hernias can’t heal on their own, so you might need surgery to repair it and avoid complications. Talk to Dr. Klause and our team to learn more about hernia repair with minimally invasive surgery.

Call our San Clemente, California, office at 949-393-2595 or request a hernia consultation online today.

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