Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do hernias affect both men and women?"
My husband has one. Can I get one? I am 39 and healthy.
Hernias occur when abdominal organs or fat squeeze through a defect or hole in the abdominal wall, causing a bulge. The are often asymptomatic but they can be dangerous, because they can be trapped by the muscles surrounding the hole, leading to a cutting off of oxygen and blood. For these reason, they usually have to be repaired surgically. The most common hernias are inguinal hernias. These occur in the groin, and they are much more common in men because men have a tendency to develop a weakness in the abdominal wall at this location. Since inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia, it follows that men suffer from hernias much more frequently than women. However, there are other types of hernias that can occur in women. For example, a femoral hernia occurs when the abdominal contents prolapse on the thigh where the femoral artery runs. These commonly occur following pregnancy or in women who are very overweight. Hernias can also occur through poorly healed surgical scars, for example a scar from a caesarean section or other abdominal operation. If you are healthy with a good weight and no history of surgeries, the chances are quite low that you will have a hernia.
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