Repair of inguinal or groin hernias is one type of surgery far more common in men than women. Like 90% vs 10% more common.
“The difference is due to our anatomy,” said Thomas Bening, MD, General Surgery. “Men have a natural opening in the muscles that allow the spermatic cord–blood vessels, nerve, and vas deferens–to travel to the testicle on each side. Weakening and tearing of the muscles in this area lead to hernia development.”
So what causes this weakening? It’s often just related to wear and tear over time. Continued physical or strenuous activities can accelerate the process, resulting in a bulge in the area, with or without accompanying pain.
The true cause and suggested courses of action can only be determined by an evaluation with a thorough history and physical exam. And although not all inguinal hernias require repair according to Bening, a significant portion does or will eventually.
“The risks of not repairing these hernias, especially when large or symptomatic, is the possibility of incarceration or strangulation of the intestine,” he said. “This could lead to emergent surgery with possible need for removal of sections of intestine as well as other complications.”
The good news is that today there are more surgical options. In addition to the traditional open approach, many patients can benefit from laparoscopic or robotically-assisted procedures. There are different patient scenarios and considerations that are weighed to determine the best type of repair for each person. Many can be done as outpatient day surgery. This is determined by the surgeon at the time of evaluation.
Regardless of which approach is taken, most repairs are done using mesh.
“These types of meshes have been used for many years and are very safe and also help decrease the incidence of recurrence of the hernia in the future,” Bening said.
As with every medical condition, prevention is preferable to treatment. But with hernias, prevention may not always be possible.
“In regard to prevention, there may not be much in the way of recommendations, other than using proper lifting and body mechanics when picking up heavy objects or doing strenuous exercise routines,” Bening said. “These are simply common hernias in active men over the course of their lifetime. If a person has any symptoms or notices a bulge in the inguinal area, evaluation by their primary care physician or a general surgeon should be done in order to minimize the risk of progression to a more urgent situation.”
HCM Medical Clinic–Marble Falls–North
2511 US Hwy 281, Suite 800
Marble Falls, Texas, 78654