It is a myth that hernias occur only in men. Women are also prone to a hernia though they more frequently occur in men. Women are often surprised when they are diagnosed with a hernia. Generally a hidden agony, hernias afflicting a woman is internal, small and seldom forms a bulge. The symptoms of a hernia are suggestive of other issues such as fibrosis, endometriosis, and adhesions from prior surgery or ovarian cysts. For women, it can take many years for these hidden hernias to be diagnosed.
Types of hernia in women
Indirect inguinal hernia This is a problem afflicting both men and women alike. Approximately 70% of hernias are in this form. A natural weakness in the internal inguinal ring develops into a hernia. A patent internal inguinal ring is abnormal with a protrusion of the peritoneum. The contents of the hernia descend into the labium majus on one side and can enlarge dramatically if left untreated. Inguinal hernias in women are confirmed only through imaging as they are not intramuscular. The large lipomas that appear do not change their position while straining or coughing. It is extremely important that these hernias are diagnosed early because of the risk of their becoming strangulated or irreducible.
Ventral hernias Also known as incisional hernias, these can appear after months or years at the site of prior surgical procedure. The tissues bulge through the defect of the fascia of the abdominal wall muscles. Ventral hernias, left untreated, cannot be repaired easily. Incisional hernias develop primarily due to high intra-abdominal pressure or a weak abdominal wall. Technical issues in the length, direction and location of the incision can also contribute to the occurrence of a ventral hernia.
Femoral hernias Rare in occurrence, femoral hernias are most commonly found in women. Appearing just below the groin crease, they usually develop as a result of childbirth. The intestinal sac drops into the femoral canal space located near the femoral vein (responsible for carrying blood from the leg) due to weakness in the lower groin. These have to be diagnosed early to avoid complications such as strangulation and incarceration.
Umbilical hernias A natural weakness in the blood vessels of the umbilical cord, these hernias occur at the belly button or navel. The area of weakness occurs in infants immediately after birth and subsides by about four years of age. But the weakness in the area continues throughout the individuals life only to worsen with obesity, pregnancy or chronic coughing.