Hernia Surgery & Sexual Health: What to Expect & How to Prepare

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Hernia Surgery & Sexual Health: What to Expect & How to Prepare



Updated on October 31, 2023

Medically verified by Dr. Arya

Fact checked by Dr. Sharon

hernia surgery and sexual health


8 min read

A hernia develops when an organ or tissue pokes through a weakened spot in nearby muscle or tissue. They're quite common in both men and women, with some types being more frequent.

People often wonder how hernia surgery might affect their sexual function. The good news is, surgery generally has a positive impact. We’ll go through what to expect before and after the procedure, making it easy to understand.

Continue reading to learn all about preparing for surgery and the expected timeline for returning to your regular activities.

What is a Hernia?

Basically, it's when something inside your body pushes through a weakened area in the nearby muscle or tissue. This creates a noticeable bulge, often in the belly or groin area.

Hernias come in a few different types. The most common ones include:

1. Inguinal Hernia This is when a part of your intestine pushes through a weak spot in the lower abdominal muscles, usually causing a bulge in the groin area.

2. Umbilical Hernia This occurs when tissue pushes through the area around your belly button. It's more common in infants but can also affect adults.

3. Hiatal Hernia A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of your stomach moves upward into your chest by passing through an opening in the diaphragm. This condition is frequently linked to acid reflux or heartburn issues.

Causes and risk factors for developing hernias

Hernias can be caused by a variety of factors. These can include anything from heavy lifting, chronic coughing, or even pregnancy. So, anything that puts excess pressure on your abdomen or groin can contribute to a hernia.

Hernias are more prone to occur if specific risk factors such as age, body weight, and a family history of hernias, are present.

Know more about hernia operation

The Impact of Hernia on Sexual Health

Now, let's discuss how hernias might influence your sex life. It can cause discomfort or affect sexual function, depending on the type and location of the hernia.

An inguinal hernia, which develops in the groin area, may lead to discomfort during certain activities. You might experience pain or tenderness around the hernia site, especially during sex. You might also notice a visible bulge or swelling. These factors can affect your comfort levels during intimate moments.

Experiencing discomfort or pain during sex due to a hernia is a valid concern.
Don’t hesitate to discuss it openly with your healthcare provider. They can offer guidance and explore suitable options to address this issue.

How You Can Prepare for Hernia Surgery

Before your surgery, there are a few things you can do to get ready physically.

  • Try to eat balanced meals. This helps your body heal better.

  • Light activities like walking can be helpful. But avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercises.

  • Sometimes, your doctor might recommend quitting smoking and drinking. This ensures everything goes smoothly during and after the surgery.

Feeling a bit nervous before surgery is normal. Don't hesitate to have a chat with your doctor if you've got any concerns on your mind. It's important to maintain realistic expectations regarding your recovery journey.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the surgery might affect your intimate life, don't hesitate to bring it up with your surgical team. They're here to make sure you have all the information you need and feel comfortable.

What to Expect During Hernia Surgery

During the surgery, you'll be given anaesthesia to make sure you don't feel any pain. Then, your surgeon will carefully repair the hernia. This might involve pushing the bulging tissue back into place and strengthening the surrounding area.

While rare, there can be some risks with any surgery, including infection, bleeding, or a reaction to anaesthesia. Your surgical team is well-prepared to manage these situations.

The surgery itself shouldn't directly affect your intimate life.
However, it's important to give your body time to heal before resuming any strenuous activities, including those of a more intimate nature.

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Recovery and Resuming Sexual Activity

After the surgery, it’s normal to feel some soreness and swelling for at least a few days. You might also feel more tired than usual due to the anaesthesia. This fatigue can last for a week or two. It’s completely fine if you don't feel up to having sex right away. You need to give your body time to recover.

Men may notice discoloration, tenderness, or swelling in the scrotum after surgery. There’s nothing to worry about, this should gradually decrease within a week or so.

You might be able to return to your regular activities, including sex, in as little as a week, although it might take a bit longer depending on how your body heals.

Does the type of hernia surgery affect sexual function?

Studies show that both open and laparoscopic surgeries can help improve sexual function and reduce pain during sex for men with inguinal hernia.

Laparoscopic surgery seems to work better.
This suggests that laparoscopic repair might be a better choice for people with inguinal hernia, especially because it leads to less pain after the operation.

If you're having laparoscopic surgery for an inguinal hernia, there are usually no specific restrictions on sexual activity. But, you might experience some discomfort around the incision site for about a week or two, which is entirely normal.

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Will I have difficulty getting an erection after surgery?

It's completely normal to wonder about this. After hernia surgery, you should generally expect no significant changes in your ability to have an erection. The surgical repair is focused on the hernia, and it doesn't interfere with your body's sexual function.

Will sex after my hernia surgery cause pain or discomfort?

This is an important concern. After the initial recovery period, sex should not be painful. In fact, for many individuals, it might even feel more comfortable than before the surgery. If at any point you do feel discomfort, communicate this with your partner. Consider adjusting positions or seeking further advice from your healthcare provider.

What level of physical activity is safe during sex?

It's encouraged to resume sexual activity at your own pace. Your body will guide you. Initially, it's wise to take it easy and gradually increase activity as you feel comfortable. For example, you may want to avoid very strenuous positions or activities that put undue pressure on the surgical site, especially in the first few weeks after surgery.

Open communication with your partner is crucial. They can provide valuable feedback on what feels comfortable for both of you. And always, listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, it's important to take a step back.

Long-term Considerations for Sexual Health

Maintain a healthy lifestyle to support sexual wellness

A balanced lifestyle is crucial for good health, including your sex life. Exercise, eat well, and take care of any health issues you have. Doing this helps your overall well-being and boosts your sexual health.

When should I see a doctor

Your doctor will be there for any guidance you may need. If you have any concerns about your sexual health or recovery, don't hesitate to reach out. They are there to ensure you have the info and support you need for a smooth recovery.

  • It’s best to reach out to a doctor if:

  • You have trouble peeing

  • The surgery site leaks or has an unusual smell

  • You're having trouble getting or maintaining an erection

  • Pain continues for several weeks after surgery


1. Can hernia surgery affect my sexual performance in the long term?

No, over time, hernia surgery should not significantly impact your sexual performance. However, in the short term, you might experience some discomfort or limitations. It's important to give your body enough time to heal.

2. What signs should I watch out for that may indicate complications related to sexual activity after hernia surgery?

Look out for severe pain, unusual swelling, bleeding, or any other worrying symptoms during or after engaging in sexual activity.

3. Can hernia surgery lead to erectile dysfunction or other sexual issues?

Typically, hernia surgery itself does not cause erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems. However, if you do have any such issues, consult your healthcare provider for proper evaluation and guidance.

4. Are there specific positions I should avoid after hernia surgery?

Yes, after hernia surgery, it's best to steer clear of positions that put too much strain on the surgical site. Initially, choose gentler and less physically demanding positions to ensure a smoother recovery.

5. How does the choice of surgical technique affect sexual function after hernia surgery?

The type of hernia surgery you have can influence your post-operative sexual function. Laparoscopic surgery involves smaller incisions and may lead to a quicker recovery, potentially allowing for a faster return to sexual activity.

Key Takeaways

A hernia develops when an organ pushes through a weak spot in the muscle.

Types include inguinal (groin), umbilical (belly button), and hiatal (diaphragm).

Factors like heavy lifting or pregnancy can cause hernias.

Surgery can improve sexual function and pain during sex.

Laparoscopic repair often leads to better outcomes.

A healthy lifestyle supports overall well-being, including sexual health.

After hernia surgery, most can still have erections without problems.

Sex should not be painful after recovery, and may even be more comfortable.

Talk openly with your partner about any intimacy concerns.

Talk openly with your partner about any intimacy concerns.

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