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"What causes the lower abdomen to protrude?"
I find that my lower abdomen kind of bulges out, even though the rest of me is pretty smooth and contoured. Is this a sign that something bad is happening down there? Should I have it looked over by a doctor?
Protruding of the lower abdomen can have many causes. I would encourage you to see your doctor. While hopefully as minor cause, this can be the sign of serious illness and does require evaluation. There are many possible causes of abdominal protuberance. The most common cause is fat deposition. Mostly men, but women as well, can develop abdominal fat before deposition in other areas. Another common cause is a hernia. Specifically, a ventral hernia can occur--here the abdominal muscles are weakened and the abdominal contents (such as colon, intestine) can protrude out. These can "strangulate" the colon/intestine and cause serious problems so should be evaluated. Other causes include dilation of the colon/intestines. Commonly, these fill up with air and stool, so constipation is a common cause. A bowel obstruction is a more serious cause of this. The abdomen can also fill with fluid. This is known as ascites. This is commonly caused by heart failure, liver disease or kidney disease. Another problem that must be ruled out is an intrabdominal mass. Ovarian cancer, colon cancer or intestinal cancer can all cause this. I encourage you to see your doctor for evaluation. While hopefully a simple cause, this could be something that requires treatment. Good luck!
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