Hernia in Women: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Hernia in Women: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Even though hernias are more likely to appear in men, women can also get them. Yet, it’s much more difficult to diagnose hernias in women since they can often be located deeper in the body and thus be less visible.

Here are a few reasons why certain types of hernias occur in women and how you can recognize their symptoms.

What Is a Hernia?

A hernia is usually a little bump that appears when internal organs (e.g., small intestines) push through the tissue surrounding it. It might happen due to the weak, thin, or separated muscles.

Unlike men’s bulgy hernias, the ones in women are frequently very small and might not be visible at all. That’s why it’s challenging to diagnose hernias in women. And a lot of times, women end up getting treated for various gynecological problems instead.

What Are the Symptoms of a Hernia?

Since women’s hernias are smaller and occur deeper in the muscle wall, their symptoms might be much different from those men experience. Plus, quite often, women’s hernias might be asymptomatic and very hard to diagnose correctly.

Here are a few common symptoms of hernias in women:

  • Chronic deep pelvic pain
  • Pain and discomfort in the groin region
  • Burning sensation
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper inner thigh
  • Acute or sharp pain
  • Discomfort after physical activity

Some of the hernia emergency might include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Extreme groin pain

Different Types of Hernias in Women

There are different types of hernias in women, yet those that appear in the groin or belly areas are the most prevalent ones. Here are a few of them.

Inguinal Hernias

Approximately three percent of women will develop a groin (inguinal) hernia over their lifetime, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Inguinal hernias appear when small organs bulge through a weak area in the lower abdominal wall in the groin region. In women, this bulge might not be as noticeable as in men.

Femoral Hernias

Unlike men, women are more likely to suffer from femoral hernias. A femoral hernia (aka femoroceles) usually appears as a small lump near the groin or thigh. This type of hernia can occur due to the overstraining caused by childbirth, coughing, heavy lifting, obesity, etc. Only three percent of all hernias are femoral, which makes them pretty rare.

Umbilical Hernias

Hernias that appear near your belly button are known as umbilical hernias. Although newborns are most likely to suffer from an umbilical hernia, adults can also get it. The most common causes include heavy lifting, childbirth, straining the abdominal muscles, and being overweight. Umbilical hernia surgeries are the most prevalent ones and usually go without complications.

Incisional Hernias

An incisional hernia usually occurs at the surgical incision site since scar tissues can never be as strong as your muscles. Women who had a C section are more likely to suffer from this type of hernia.

Epigastric Hernias

“Epigastric hernias are found above your belly button and below your ribcage. You may notice a small lump or soreness in the affected area, but not all epigastric hernias cause symptoms. Epigastric hernias may trigger pain when you cough, sneeze, or strain.”

Dr. Esteban Kosak, Symptoms Care

How to Prevent Hernias?

Hernias aren’t life-threatening medical conditions and are less likely to occur in women, yet it’s still vital to know how to distinguish their symptoms and prevent emergencies. Here are a few tips you can follow to avoid getting a hernia:

  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid heavy lifting, or do it very carefully
  • Follow a well-balanced diet
  • Talk to your doctor if you feel pain or discomfort
  • Consider wearing a hernia belt over a weakness in the abdominal wall or hernia support underwear

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