Pelvic Hernia

Facts about Pelvic Hernia

Hernias are often associated with men, but in the various types that affect people there are also those which afflict women; also considered to be inguinal or pelvic hernia.  They are more common in men, which is likely the reason that people automatically think of hernia as a condition that affects males.

Frequently, people think of a hernia as being some type of mass that has grown in the body until it is large enough to create the typical bulge associated with the condition.  This is not an accurate description of the condition at all.  Rather, it is a weakness in areas of the body itself that is the hernia.  The best definition of a hernia is “a bulge or protrusion of an organ through a muscle or other structure that normally serves to keep it contained”.  This description infers that a hernia can occur anywhere in the body, although there are more commonly affected areas.  The abdominal cavity is where the majority of hernias occur; however, anywhere that an organ or a cavity exists in the body is where a hernia can occur.

Some people are simply born with weakened muscle structures in these areas, and therefore are at a greater risk for experiencing hernias.  Others may unknowingly cause the weakening through lifting weights, being overweight, having chronic constipation that results in straining and even premature birth.  Pregnancy is a major contributor to the development of hernias in women, due to the extreme stretching required during the growth of the baby.  Since the purpose of the muscles is to contain organs, a thinned muscle wall or a hole in a muscle can allow part of one of these abdominal organs to press through the area; causing a pelvic hernia.

As the structural build and anatomy differ between men and women in the pelvic area, so do the ways in which the hernias form.  In men, stressors to the muscles that extend from the abdominal cavity into the groin may be extreme through lifting, causing multiple small tears.  The tears create weak muscle areas, often in the vicinity of the scrotum.  If the intestine pushes through into the weakened area, a lump in the groin may occur as the first sign of the hernia. 

Women face different issues.  A pelvic hernia is far less common in women, but does occur.  For females, a femoral hernia is more likely to form.  Where the top of the leg meets the pelvic area, an opening exists that allows the femoral artery, nerve and vein to traverse into the leg.  When the bowel slips to the opening because the muscles surrounding the bowel are weakened, a hernia situation exists but no telltale lump will announce the condition since the bulge will be inside. 

For either men or women, there is a high possibility of complications for a hernia that goes undetected and untreated.  The herniated organ can become constricted in the muscle opening; causing swelling, a decreased blood supply to the organ with a risk of dying tissues.  Infections could develop, with the affected individual becoming violently ill. 

Any pelvic hernia can easily be fixed when the diagnosis is made as soon as the condition is recognized.  Surgery is almost solely used as a means to repair hernias, with the organ being pushed back into its original position first and then the torn tissue or muscle fixed to avoid reoccurrences.  The surgery may be open, with surgical incision necessary or laparoscopic which is less invasive.  Recovery time can vary, but generally individuals can return to work with one to two weeks of their procedure.

Pelvic hernia is a condition that can occur to either men or women, although in different ways. It is important to seek medical attention immediately when a hernia is suspected to avoid further complications.