Because less than 10 percent of all diagnosed hernias occur in women, many people don’t think of female hernia sufferers when they consider this extremely common medical issue. Yet, between 2 and 5 percent of all women will develop some type of hernia in their lifetime. Luckily, Dr. Shirin Towfigh of Beverly Hills Hernia Center is the Western United States’ only surgeon specializing in the diagnosis and repair of abdominal hernias, and she has extensive experience treating hernias in women as well as men. According to Dr. Towfigh, these 4 types of hernias are the most common hernias that she sees in female patients:
- Inguinal Hernias – While these hernias are most common in men, approximately 2 percent of all women will have an inguinal hernia at some point in their lifetime. These hernias occur when a portion of the small intestine pushes through the inguinal canal, a gap located on the anterior abdominal wall near the groin. Inguinal hernias found in women do not always require surgery, but if the intestine protrudes enough and cannot be pushed back in, surgery with hernia mesh may be required.
- Incisional Hernias – After a patient has any type of open surgery, the site of the scar can become a weak point where intestines and other organs putting pressure on the abdominal wall can push through. Incisional hernias occurring in women and men account for approximately 10 percent of all hernia cases, and because scar site hernias will not go away on their own, nearly all of these patients will require surgery.
- Umbilical Hernias – The majority of umbilical hernias occur in children that are born with a weakness in the abdominal wall at the site of the navel. However, when they occur in adults, these hernias are most common in women. Adult umbilical hernias usually result from the rapid expansion of the stomach, especially during pregnancy. Adults can also suffer from an umbilical hernia after rapid weight gain or excess coughing.
- Femoral Hernias – Accounting for only 3 percent of all hernias, femoral hernias are the least common type of hernia, yet they almost always occur in women. Unfortunately, these hernias are very hard to detect so they are often not caught until an emergency arises. This difficulty is one of the reasons why it is important to schedule a consultation with a hernia diagnosis expert like Dr. Towfigh the moment you experience persistent groin pain.
Because hernias are not as common in women, they often go undiagnosed in female patients. Dr. Towfigh is working to end this all too common medical shortcoming. If you have recently noticed pain or a lump in your groin or abdomen, don’t hesitate to call your primary care physician.