A hernia is a portion of tissue that has pushed out through an opening inside the body. It may occur somewhere along the abdominal wall, in which the muscles or other tissue have weakened, or it can happen within the diaphragm where the esophagus meets the stomach. Regardless of the location, women often experience some of the same signs and symptoms of a hernia as men do.
For many women, it is possible to experience no symptoms of a hernia at all. This is largely due to the size of the protrusion, as smaller hernias may not disrupt the normal function of the body. It often isn't until a routine exam or checkup that the condition is even diagnosed. However, some women experience symptoms so subtle that they may never realize that they've suffered a hernia or confuse it with another condition entirely, usually something involving a digestive disorder.
If you were to suffer from a hiatal hernia, especially one involving a larger portion of your stomach tissue, you may begin to experience symptoms that can mimic conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux or indigestion. As the tissue of the stomach protrudes out through the opening the esophagus, the process of digestion is obviously interrupted, initiating frequent episodes of heartburn. This may cause you to feel that burning sensation within your chest as well as a bitter or sour taste toward the back of your mouth. This is often accompanied by nausea, upset stomach and gas.
With an inguinal hernia, where a portion of your intestinal tract pushes out through your abdominal wall, you'll frequently experience a grouping of different symptoms than that of a hiatal hernia. In women, the most common is an almost chronic pelvic pain, but you may also begin to suffer from a protrusion in or near the groin as well as a feeling of weight or heaviness within the pelvis.
When the protrusion actually becomes trapped within the opening, you may experience what is known as an incarcerated hernia. Also referred to as "strangulated" hernia, the blood supply to this portion of your intestines becomes greatly reduced, sometimes to the point of complete deprivation, leading to serious complications. If this were to occur, you not only suffer from the normal symptoms of an inguinal hernia, but also nausea that often leads to vomiting as well as a sudden fever.
While many cases of hernias can heal on their own, it is still important to seek medical advice, especially when a hernia becomes incarcerated or strangulated. And depending on the severity of the protrusion, your doctor may recommend antacids or a prescription to an H-2 blocker or protein pump inhibitor. In more serious cases, a surgical procedure may be necessary to manually move the hernia back into the body.