A scrotal hernia, or a hernia in the scrotal or groin area, is more correctly referred to as an inguinal hernia. The primary symptom of an inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin or scrotum, thus the layman’s reference to a scrotal hernia. A scrotal hernia occurs when tissue passes through thin or weakened spots in the groin muscle, which results in a bulge that may be painful or cause burning. Many hernias are the result of heavy lifting and are ten times more common in men than women.
The symptoms of an inguinal hernia may include pain, discomfort, or a heavy feeling in the groin area, bulging of either side of the pubic bone, or swelling near the testicles in men. In some cases, symptoms may not be noticeable and the hernia may be detected by a doctor during a routine physical.
Certain risk factors that increase the chances of developing an inguinal hernia include family history, chronic constipation that results in heavy straining during bowel movements, moderate to severe obesity, and manual labor jobs that require both standing for long periods and heavy lifting. People who have previously developed hernias are more likely to develop another.
In men, a scrotal hernia can cause pain, swelling, and discomfort around the testicles, but a hernia itself is not dangerous. It is the complications that can arise from a hernia that causes concern. Bowel obstruction and strangulation of bowel tissue are possible complications of an inguinal hernia and can be life-threatening. For this reason, it is important to have any symptoms checked by your doctor and to have routine physicals.
In most cases, a doctor can diagnose a scrotal hernia by physical exam. Small hernias causing no symptoms may be left to heal on their own by avoiding obvious causes. However, larger hernias or hernias causing pain or discomfort will likely require surgical repair. Your doctor will discuss your options with you or refer you to a specialist if necessary.
People who are at risk for developing a hernia or who have previously developed a hernia may be told to lose weight, change their diet, avoid lifting, and change lifestyle habits, such as quitting smoking, to reduce their risk of developing a hernia. Talk to your doctor if you have had symptoms of pain or discomfort in the groin area, have felt pain or pressure when coughing or straining for a bowel movement, or have experience other symptoms.