Description: A femoral hernia is less common than an inguinal hernia and affects women because they have a larger female pelvis.
A protrusion of tissue causes it in the upper part of the groin or inside the thigh.
This type of hernia occurs below the groin and tends to be smaller. It is composed of tissue in the lower part of the intestine that pushes through the abdominal wall through a weak spot called the ‘femoral canal.’
The femoral canal
This tubular opening is located in the front of the thigh and the upper part. It is the point at which the main blood vessels and nerves pass from the abdomen to the leg, this being probably where the development of a hernia is present.
The causes of a femoral hernia
If there is an underlying weakness in the femoral canal, a hernia will develop. If the pressure inside or outside the abdomen increases due to excessive coughing, especially if you are a smoker or straining during defecation, a hernia is likely.
Other causes include:
- Obesity: Excessive weight exerts additional pressure on the abdomen that can lead to the development of a hernia.
- Lift or carry excessive loads.
- Pregnancy: a single or several pregnancies can weaken the abdominal muscles and thus increase the risk of hernia formation. This is usually why femoral hernias are more common in women.
- Growth in the intestine.
Symptoms of a femoral hernia
As a result of their small size, most people do not experience any symptoms and do not realize they have a hernia unless complications arise. Any symptoms experienced will include a dull pain around your abdomen or the lower groin area.
You may find that this hernia disappears when you lie down, but it reappears when you stand up or lean forward.
Can a femoral hernia be prevented?
You can take steps to reduce the risk of developing a femoral hernia. These include:
- Give up smoking.
- Eat a diet high in fiber, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods. This will help prevent constipation.
- The construction of strong abdominal muscles through exercise.
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you carry a couple of extra kilos.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects.
Complications of a femoral hernia
In most cases, the hernia remains in the femoral canal, known as an ‘irreducible’ hernia. The problem with this is that the blood supply to the hernia can be blocked, which prevents the reception of vital nutrients. This leads to a condition called a strangulated hernia that is potentially dangerous and requires immediate surgery to release the blocked tissue and restore the blood supply to that area.
Your GP will ask about your lifestyle and medical history and examine the area where you have the hernia.