Hernia in women – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Pictures

A protrusion or bulging of a section an organ through the wall of the cavity that encloses it is referred to as hernia. It is often incorrectly assumed that hernia is a problem which affects just men. Hernia can also occur in women as well as children. However, men are at greater risk than women.

Hernia is typically caused due to slacking of muscles. A hernia bulge is generally observed through an abdominal or intestinal fatty tissue, a membrane, or the walls of any muscle. Hernia affecting the upper thigh region and the abdomen are most common.

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Many types of hernia can affect women. Hernias are usually accompanied by pain. But some women may not experience any pain for many months, which can pose problems in correct diagnosis. In many instances, hernia in women is misdiagnosed as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or ovarian cysts.

Hernias can sometimes cut off the supply of blood to the affected region. This is an emergency situation that requires immediate surgical treatment.

Symptoms of hernia in women

Some of the common signs and symptoms of hernia in women are listed below:

  • A bulge:When a part of an organ starts jutting out of the skin, a swelling or bulge becomes easily noticeable. Exercises, increased physical activity, lifting heavy things, coughing, etc. can exert additional pressure on the affected muscles, which then causes an increase in the size of the abnormal bulge.
  • Vomiting, nausea, and constipation: If hernia in women develops within the intestine, then it can cause intestinal tract blockage. This can cause vomiting and nausea. Partial obstruction may only cause nausea along with appetite loss, while complete clogging of the tract can result in severe constipation.
  • Pain: It is one of the primary symptoms of hernia in women. The severity of pain may vary from mild to extreme. Pain usually arises due to tearing or stretching of the tissue. It may also be caused due to damage or irritation of the nerve located on/near the hernia. Often, the pain may be local and directly on the location of hernia.
  • Acid reflux:Bulging of a hernia into the diaphragm can cause a host of acid reflux symptoms such as indigestion, heartburn, etc. Some patients may also complain of an upset stomach, chest pain, and sour taste in their mouth.
  • Urinary abnormalities: If hernia in women clogs the bladder, then it can lead to persistent urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and increased desire to frequently pass urine.
  • Other problems: Some women may also experience painful sexual intercourse.

Types and Causes of hernia in women

The different types of hernia in women and their respective causes and symptoms are discussed below:

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  • Femoral hernia in women: It is caused due to bulging of the intestine into the femoral canal. Even though the canal is quite small, sometimes the intestine may make its way into it. It is difficult to push back the intestine to its original location and hence treating femoral hernia in women is quite problematic. The condition also poses great risk to intestinal strangulation and hence patients need to seek immediate medical advice.
  • Incisional hernia in women: When an abnormal bulge occurs in a surgical incision area, then it is called incisional hernia. It develops in the region where the incision was done, due to increased laxity or weakening of the surrounding muscles. The protrusion is believed to be caused by elevated pressure on the intestines, abdominal tissue, and muscles.Affected women may experience tenderness and pain in the area. The pain may worsen when coughing or bending. Incisional hernia in women may become serious when the intestine gets trapped in the incision causing the blood flow to stop. This emergency situation may be accompanied by abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.
  • Inguinal hernia in women:It refers to a protrusion through the abdominal wall in the groin region. A large bulge can be felt or seen on one or other side of pelvic bone, or in the lower end of the abdomen.Symptoms are often non-existent and the condition may be detected during a routine physical checkup. Some women may elicit extreme pain and groin discomfort, which may exacerbate when coughing, exercising, and bending, etc.
  • Obturator hernia in women: It is rare and generally affects older women. The bulge is not visible, but the condition can obstruct bowel movements causing vomiting and nausea.
  • Umbilical hernia in women: It arises due to bulging of the intestine via the abdominal muscle. Women with prolonged constipation or obesity are at greater risk. Umbilical hernia in women can be identified by a soft protrusion near the navel. It is usually not painful, but patients may experience abdominal discomfort and mild tenderness of the affected area.
  • Hiatal hernia in women: The bulge occurs in the upper area of the abdomen, above the stomach, and into the chest cavity. It can weaken or mildly tear the diaphragm. Hiatal hernia in women may cause heartburn, heart palpitations, chest pain, acid reflux, nausea, breathlessness, and vomiting.

Treatment of hernia in women

Hernia in women is treated via surgery. If an underlying condition does not allow surgery, then doctors may suggest the use of surgical belts, etc. to manage hernia till the other disease gets resolved.

Patients also need to avoid physical activities, lifting heavy objects, etc. till hernia gets treated.




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