Some men with inguinal hernias do report sexual problems, although the situation might be temporary.
A hernia occurs when part of an internal organ bulges into a weak spot on the abdominal wall. Inguinal hernias involve the small intestine. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an estimated 27% of men develop inguinal hernias.
A hernia itself is unlikely to impair a man’s sexual function, as it generally does not affect sexual organs or the nerves associated with them.
However, some men experience sexual problems, at least temporarily, after surgery for hernia repair.
In February 2020, the Journal of the American College of Surgeons published a review of 12 medical studies concerning inguinal hernia and men’s sexual health.
Overall, the studies involved 4,884 patients.
The review authors determined that sexual dysfunction (described as “completion of intercourse”) was a problem for 5% of the men after their hernia surgery. About 9% of the men had pain with sexual activity.
In an interview with Reuters Health, lead author Dr. David Soybel of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine explained, “After repair, the same structures may become tethered or trapped in the scar that forms around the repair. In both open and laparoscopic repairs, nerves that provide sensation to the skin of the groin, scrotum and penis are in the operative field, and may be at risk for trapping (causing pain) or interruption (causing numbness), which can interfere with sensations that are part of the experience of sexual intercourse.”
Some experts believe that the mesh material used to repair hernias may play a role in sexual pain afterward, especially if nerves or inflammation are involved.
Men who are concerned about hernias and sexual function are encouraged to discuss the issue with their doctor.
“Sexual Dysfunction and Hernias: Separating the Facts From the Bull”
(Last updated: April 27, 2018)
Wessells, Hunter, MD
“A Hernia’s Sexual Side Effects?”
(Last updated: January 7, 2008)
The Journal of the American College of Surgeons
Ssentongo, Anna E., MPH, et al.
“Pain and Dysfunction with Sexual Activity after Inguinal Hernia Repair: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”
(Abstract. First published online: November 13, 2019)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
“Sexual dysfunction common after men’s hernia surgery”
(December 11, 2019)