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Hernias in Women & Children

A common myth is that hernias only occur in men. While it is true that hernias most frequently occur in men, hernias can also occur in women and children. Read below to learn about the types of hernias common in women and children.

Hernias in Women

Many women are often surprised when diagnosed with a hernia. Hernias in women can cause chronic pelvic pain, and hernia repair is very effective at eliminating the cause of this pain. There are several types of hernias that can develop in women:

Indirect inguinal hernias develop due to the natural weakness in the internal inguinal ring . This is the most common inguinal hernia in both men and women, representing about 2/3 of these defects. These hernias have a greater risk of becoming nonreducible or strangulated , making early diagnosis and repair extremely important.

Ventral hernias are also called incisional hernias. These hernias can appear at the site of a previous surgery weeks, months, or even years later and can vary in size from small to very large and complex. If you think you have a ventral hernia, it is important to see your doctor. If ventral hernias are left untreated, they may widen and become extremely difficult to repair.

Femoral hernias are rare but occur almost exclusively in women. These hernias appear just below the groin crease and are usually the result of pregnancy and childbirth. A weakness in the lower groin allows an intestinal sac to drop into the femoral canal, a space near the femoral vein that carries blood from the leg. These hernias are more prone to develop incarceration or strangulation as an early complication than are inguinal hernias. Therefore, once these hernias are diagnosed, early repair is very strongly advised before such complications occur.

Umbilical hernias occur near the bellybutton or navel, which has a natural weakness from the blood vessels of the umbilical cord. These hernias may occur in infants at or just after birth, and may resolve at three or four years of age. However, the area of weakness can persist throughout life, and can occur in women, men, and children at any time. In adults, umbilical hernias will not resolve and may progressively worsen over time. They are sometimes caused by abdominal pressure due to being overweight, excessive coughing, or pregnancy.

Symptoms of hernias in women:

  • A bulge or swelling that may pop in and out with episodes of pain and tenderness
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Pain when straining, lifting, or coughing

If you are experiencing these symptoms or suspect you may have a hernia, it is important to see your doctor before complications develop.

Hernias in Children

The most common types of hernias in children are:

Umbilical hernias occur near the belly button or navel, which has a natural weakness from the blood vessels of the umbilical cord. These hernias may occur in infants at or just after birth, and may resolve at three or four years of age. However, the area of weakness can persist throughout life, and can occur in women, men, and children at any time. In adults, umbilical hernias will not resolve and may progressively worsen over time. They are sometimes caused by abdominal pressure due to being overweight, excessive coughing, or pregnancy. In infants, umbilical hernias may heal without surgery.

Indirect inguinal hernias develop due to the natural weakness in the internal inguinal ring. This is the most common inguinal hernia, representing about 2/3 of these defects. These hernias have a greater risk of becoming nonreducible or strangulated, making early diagnosis and repair extremely important.

Symptoms of hernias in children:

  • A bulge in a child's groin or abdomen that can be seen and felt
  • Discomfort

Consult your pediatrician for proper diagnosis and treatment if you feel any bulge in your child's groin or abdomen.