When a section of an organ protrudes through the tissues then the condition is known as a hernia. A hernia usually projects out from the tissue that holds it. The weakness of the muscles mostly leads to development of a hernia. A majority of the hernia extensions is normally visible through abdominal or intestinal fatty tissue. The term hernia can be associated with any kind of abnormal bulges, but is most often related to hernia involving the abdominal wall.
It is incorrectly presumed that hernia tends to occur only in men. Hernia in women as well as children can also be noticed. However, it may be noted that cases of hernia in women is less as compared to those in men.
Symptoms of hernia in women
The symptoms of hernia in women differ as per the type of hernia. A few common signs of hernia in women are as follows:
- A bulge: Once the abnormal extension has made its way through, a swelling or a bulge can be observed under the skin of the abdominal wall. Persistent coughing, exercising, straining, lifting and other such activities increase the strain on the muscles, thereby resulting in an increase in the size of the bulge.
- Urinary difficulties: As in the case of intestine, the blockage of the bladder by a hernia in women can result in urinary problems, which include bladder stones, burning sensations, increased infections, and excessive and frequent urination.
- Vomiting, nausea and constipation: The normal passage of food through the intestine is obstructed due to trapping of the intestine in a hernia. This can lead to vomiting and nausea. Partial blockage of the intestine may cause nausea, with no vomiting, but may lead to appetite loss. Complete obstruction of the intestines can result in constipation.
- Pain: It is the most common symptom of hernia in women, besides the appearance of a protrusion. The tearing or increased stretching of the affected tissue leads to pain, which can vary from severe to dull. Damage of a nerve or irritation can also lead to pain. Such pain is mostly localized and isolated at the site of the hernia
- Hernia in women can also occasionally result in pain during intercourse or impotence
Types of hernia in women
- Incisional hernia in women: Also, known as ventral hernia, this type of hernia in women can be observed after they have undergone a surgery. The hernia protrusion occurs at the area where an incision was performed. This is due increased weakening of the muscles at that spot, and also due to excessive pressure exerted on the intestines, abdominal tissue and muscles. This hernia may not cause any visible symptoms, but serious cases involving trapping of the intestines into the incision with subsequent blood supply cut-off to them, can result in vomiting, nausea and pain in the abdomen.
- Inguinal hernia in women: The condition is usually discovered during a regular checkup as it does not cause visible symptoms. A large bulge can be noticed or felt on the sides of the pelvic bone or in the lower abdomen, when an affected woman is standing or coughs. Symptoms include severe pain while bending or coughing and discomfort in the groin area.
- Umbilical hernia in women: Umbilical hernia or belly button hernia is most common in children, but the condition is not very painful and often tends to resolve on its own. When it affects adults, umbilical hernia in women is more common as compared to men. It is caused due to projection of the intestine through the abdominal tissue and often noticed near the navel.
- Hiatal hernia in women: It is the most common form of hernia in women and usually results in acid reflux along with other signs like regurgitation, heartburn and nausea. It causes an extension in the upper abdominal area into the thorax from the stomach, which in turn can weaken or tear the diaphragm, eventually leading to breathlessness, cardiac palpitations, chest pain, etc.
- Obturator hernia in women: Even though it is rare, it is more common in women. The protrusion occurs from the pelvic opening to into the pelvic bone. Visible symptoms like a bulge are absent, but this type of hernia in women can cause bowel movement obstruction, leading to vomiting and nausea.
- Femoral hernia in women: It involves protrusion of the intestine into the femoral canal. It may be noted that the femoral canal is generally small in size, but in some women, it may be large enough for the intestine to squeeze through. It usually results in a bump which can be noticed either about the mid thigh region or the groin area. Vomiting, nausea, constipation, urinary difficulties and painful intercourse are other symptoms. It is a very difficult condition to treat, as pushing the intestine to its original location is cumbersome.
Treatment of hernia in women
- Surgery is the most common way to treat hernia in women. However, if health complications are present in patients, then surgery will need to be delayed till such time the underlying condition improves.
- In the meantime, doctors may recommend the use of various surgical instruments like belts to control the hernia in women. However, it should be noted such belts should not be used in case of femoral hernia.
- Finally, strenuous activities should be avoided to prevent aggravation of the condition.