Inguinal Hernia Repair: One Week Post-Op

Hi everyone- Happy Friday! I hope you’re all having a great week and for those who celebrate Christmas, I hope you are gearing up for the holiday next week.

As some of you know, I underwent surgery last week for an inguinal hernia repair. It was something I had been dealing with for about 10 years and I thought what better time to have it repaired and recover, than over the holidays and before we head to Europe in January. As I started my research to find information on the surgery and recovery for inguinal hernia repair, specifically for women, I realized there was nothing out there. So, I’ve decided to share my personal story and experience with inguinal hernia repair for those who may want to hear how I’ve handled the surgery and recovery.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

As I mentioned, I’ve had the inguinal hernia for about 10 years- I first noticed it at cheerleading practice my freshmen year of college. I asked someone what it was and they diagnosed me with a hernia- pretty scientific I know. It came and went for a few years. It would bulge out and then go back in- bulge out, then go back in. It was always very small and didn’t cause me pain- it was more of something that was just a little uncomfortable.

My junior year of college I finally went to see a surgeon in Hawaii. He examined me, confirmed it was a hernia and then told me that I could wait to have surgery until after I graduated. I agreed and went on my merry way. After that appointment, I really didn’t have any symptoms until about a year ago- so 6-7 years later. I had honestly forgotten that I even had a hernia and I thought it had went away forever (I then found out that they never really go away or heal).

About a year ago I noticed the bulge again and also an intense pressure that came with it. It would give me pain for a few days at most, and then disappear for weeks or months at a time. I actually thought it might have been an issue with my ovaries or reproductive system because of the location and the fact that the pain and pressure usually occurred after intercourse or after a very long, hard run.

I went to see my gynecologist for a check-up and had an ultrasound done just to make sure everything was ok. All clear!My uterus was healthy and happy- no issues there. I told the GYN that I had a hernia in the past and she immediately concurred that it was the cause of the pain and pressure and recommended that I have surgery- especially before childbirth.

That conversation is what eventually lead me to meet with a product manager here at my work. You see, I work for a medical device company that actually produces and sells a hernia repair graft. The graft is made of pig intestine (the official name is Biodesign), but the cool part about the product is that is completely reabsorbs into your own tissue leaving no trace of anything synthetic or permanent. Seems like a pretty cool product right? I was hoping that if I had to have the hernia repair, that the surgeon might choose to use this product over a synthetic mesh which is the other common practice for hernia repair.

After meeting with the product manager here at work and explaining my condition, I asked him for a few physician recommendations. I wanted someone who was going to take into consideration the fact that I am young, a female (these aren’t super common among women), a competitive athlete and someone who wanted kids soon (taking into account the literal weight of pregnancy). He recommended a physician in Miami, FL who is the best, but after telling him that I probably wasn’t going to travel to FL for surgery, he recommended a physician in Indianapolis that he had worked with in the past who was a great surgeon and who was very well versed in hernia repairs.

MEETING WITH THE SURGEON

I scheduled a meeting with the surgeon and Wil and I met with him along with our list of questions. He was very polite and answered everything we asked. I asked him what type of surgery he would suggest for my case- laparoscopic or open and he gave me the pros and cons of each- he recommended laparoscopic for me. I asked him if I could get pregnant after the repair and if that would give me an issue and he said it shouldn’t. I asked him if I would be able to run, bike, swim, lift and do all my activities eventually after the surgery and he said yes.

I asked him what product he would most likely use and he told me that it depends on the size of the hernia and they actually can’t tell that until they’re in there during surgery, but that for my case and location of the hernia, he would most likely use a polypropylene mesh and not the Biodesign product. I asked him what the recovery was like and he said it was simple- no activity for two weeks and no lifting anything over 25 pounds for four weeks. He assured me that this is a super easy, very common procedure (750,000 hernia repairs annually in the US) and I would be back to normal in no time.

Considering what I went through recovery wise with my FAI surgery, I thought this would be a piece of cake. Wil and I discussed the options and decided that having the surgery was the best solution and it was best to have it done now. We scheduled it for December 11th which was about four weeks away.

Over those four weeks I went through many ups and downs in terms of feeling at ease with the decision to have surgery. I kept thinking, “Is this overkill? I really don’t have a lot of pain all the time with the hernia so do I absolutely need the surgery?”. And then I would think, “Yes. Do it now before you have kids. You don’t want any complications with it during pregnancy- better to do it now while you have the money and time”.

Wil and I discussed it a lot and I kept going back and forth. I tried and tried to find information online, but without much luck. I found one YouTube channel of a professional basketball player who had hernia repair (open, not laparoscopic) and he provided some insight into his recovery and some exercises for recovery. I googled everything with female + hernia + hernia surgery + female athlete which literally turned up no results. That’s when I posted about the surgery on Facebook and found that a few women I knew had actually had the surgery, but none of them had had it before they had kids (one did, but she didn’t remember much about it since she was younger when the surgery took place). This wasn’t very reassuring either. At the end of the day, I decided that the hernia would not repair itself. Hernia’s don’t go away totally and they don’t repair themselves. Knowing that, I decided to go ahead with the surgery and embrace it.

SURGERY DAY

The day before the surgery I started getting a sore throat, a head cold and a stuffy nose. We had been in Dallas a few days before for the American Open and the time spent on the plane and with people who had germs all over the place, I was in for getting some sort of cold. I woke up the morning of the surgery feeling awful. I told Wil I wondered if they would even do surgery because I couldn’t breath and my throat was hurting so bad. We assumed they would tell us if they didn’t want to do surgery because I didn’t feel well.

The surgery was done at IU Health in Indianapolis, specifically at the Simon Cancer Center. The facility was very nice and the people were very kind. We got there, got checked in and I got settled into the pre-op room. I took a pregnancy test which is standard before surgery, got into my robe and waited for the nurses to come in.

Inguinal Hernia Repair- Recovery

I am terrified of needles. I hate them. I can look at them and work with them day-in and day-out in my profession, but the second I think about it going into my vein, I get anxious, my blood pressure rises and I want to cry. Luckily, the anesthesiologist was very kind and he numbed my hand beforehand. The IV needle freaks me out more than the surgery itself- weird, I know. The anesthesiologist mentioned that since I had a cold they would give me a breathing treatment of Albuterol during surgery, to help with my cold.

I was pretty nauseous from the anesthesia after my FAI surgery and I had told the surgeon this. The anesthesiologist put this little round patch sticker on the back of my head near my ear which is supposed to help with nausea thank you Mr. anesthesiologist, thank you. We somehow got onto the conversation of epidural, his wife giving birth and how his wife was pregnant. He was extremely nice and I was happy to have him as someone taking care of me. Wil liked him so much he said he wanted to hang out with him sometime.

The two surgery nurses came in and were also very kind. I asked if they had ever experienced an inguinal hernia repair for a female and one of them said that his girlfriend (who had been a collegiate swimmer at IU) had actually had the surgery a few months prior. I enjoyed talking to them and they made a few jokes which helped ease my nerves. The surgeon came in and marked my right side with a permanent marker and I asked him a few recovery questions- one of which he had probably never been asked. I asked him when we could be intimate again (and when I said “we” I meant Wil and I- Wil made a joke about this and the surgery nurses thought it was hilarious) and when I could get a bikini wax- hey, these are two very important things for a female to know!

I gave Wil a hug, and a kiss and was on my way to the OR. I laid on the table and they put a warm blanket on me that felt fantastic. I remember making a joke about how I shaved my legs just for the procedure and then it got fuzzy and I was out.

RECOVERY

I woke up in the post-op room which is dimly lit and very quiet. I was shivering and my teeth were chattering- a symptom of the anesthesia and something I experienced after my last procedure. I was in my robe and had a lot of blankets on top of me. I asked why my eyes were oily because it almost seemed like I had blurred vision and the nurse said they put something in your eyes to help them from getting dried out.

I got back to my pre-op room and rested until I was ready to get my clothes on. I couldn’t bend over, lean over, sit up or do much. I felt super groggy and Wil had to completely dress me and put on my socks and boots. See, I look really groggy…but I am smiling!

Inguinal Hernia Repair- Recovery

 

One thing that surprised me was that the surgeon never came to talk to me after the surgery. Maybe because they assume you won’t remember any of it anyway, but that struck me as odd. He did come and talk to Wil and said that everything went well and that the hernia wasn’t actually any of my intestine, rather a sac of fluid that kept filling up. He told Wil that we should call for a follow-up appointment in four-six weeks.

The next few days were pretty much the same in terms of what I did. I slept a lot, did minimal movement and tried my best not to cough, laugh, strain, sneeze, roll over, sit-up or anything else that would require me to use my core (which sucks by the way). I got outside on Thursday or Friday (I don’t remember) and Wil walked me down the block very, very slowly so I could get some fresh air and see the sunshine- it felt great to get out! My husband is so good to me too- such a great care-taker 😉

Inguinal Hernia Repair- Recovery

 

I knew that I wouldn’t have much of an appetite due to the pain killers so I had prepped some homemade chicken broth and my paleo chili the day before surgery. I ended up eating broth most of the day and then supplemented with chili, baby food and lots of water and some coconut water. The first thing I ate after my surgery was a smoothie which is so weird if you know me. I usually don’t like smoothies, but for some reason it sounded really good to me-probably because my throat was very sore. Wil made me a smoothie with coconut milk, raspberries, strawberries and I don’t even know what else, but it was tasty.

One thing I struggled with was the gas from the surgery. My first day home wasn’t very bad, but for some reason the next couple of days my stomach ballooned. I’m guessing it was a combination of the gas they used to inflate my tissue for the surgery, retaining water since I was hardly moving, swelling from the surgery itself and maybe some fluid from the surgery. See, I look pregnant with the amount of gas that was in my belly!

Inguinal Hernia Repair- Recovery

I have a few other pictures that are a lot worse, but I will spare you and myself the embarrassment.

So, today marks day 9 of recovery for me. I went back to work on Wednesday which was exactly one week post-op. Honestly, it was a little too soon (I was exhausted by 3pm and not making any sense), but I’m glad to have gotten back on a routine and drive and get out of the house. I stopped taking my pain meds on Monday (5 days post-op) and resorted too some ibuprofen on Tuesday and Wednesday. No pain meds yesterday or today either. See, I am a happy camper!

Inguinal Hernia Repair- Recovery

I’d like to give a few tips for anyone going through inguinal hernia repair- especially if you’re a female:

  1. Take a stool softener with every pain pill you take: Trust me, just do it. I didn’t do this with my first surgery and I did with this one and it was a blessing! I had a bowel movement two days after surgery and I didn’t have to push. I know it’s TMI, but believe me, you won’t want to push (and you shouldn’t).
  2. Get two ice packs and rotate them: I rotated between two clay ice packs and kept them on my belly for a few days after the surgery. The cooling helps with the pain and will help with swelling.
  3. Make nourishing, non-inflammatory, feel-good foods before the surgery and have them on hand: Your body needs a lot of calories to recover and repair. Most people don’t realize this. They eat crackers and ginger-ale because they can’t stomach anything. You need food that will nourish your body and help you recover. Make something simple like chicken broth, pureed veggies or other soups that are whole food based, freeze them and then get them out when you’re recovering.
  4. Sleep with a pillow under your knees and on your side: The pillow under your knees will help take some of the pressure off of your legs being totally flat on the bed. The pillows on the side will help you push up if you need to and will also keep your significant other from accidentally bumping you in the middle of the night. You might also want to use an extra pillow to sleep on so you are propped up a bit.
  5. Lay out clothes options on top of your dresser before your surgery: You won’t be able to bend over so prep all your outfits before. I know I sound like a crazy planner, but this really helps and makes it easy for whoever is helping dress you (yes, someone will have to put on your socks, underwear and pants).
  6. Try not to sneeze, cough or laugh- and if you do, use a pillow: I know this sounds ridiculous. I didn’t know how much it would hurt if I did these things. I could barely talk when I would stand up because of the use of my diaphragm and the pressure being put on the surgery area. If you do have to cough, sneeze or laugh, hold a pillow tight to the hernia area and press down. It’s probably not a medical solution, but no one in the hospital told me what to do in this case (to be fair, I didn’t think to ask).
  7. Drink a lot of water. And then drink some more: Your body needs water daily when you aren’t recovering from surgery. When you are recovering, the last thing you think of is drinking water. Just do it. This will help with your digestive system and having a bowel movement and will also keep you hydrated throughout recovery. If you need to, supplement with some coconut water.
  8. Take supplements when needed: I knew that my body was not in tip top shape going into surgery and I knew it would need a little extra boost while recovering. While recovering I took a probiotic, multi-vitamin and glutamine. Even though I was eating some whole foods, I wasn’t getting enough protein, vegetables or any of the recommended amounts of whole foods I should normally eat. Talk to your doctor and ask them about what you can and cannot take- they will be able to advise you.
  9. Try to rest, but do move some:  I’m a very active person so being laid up for days on end is maddening. With this surgery, your body needs to heal from the inside out. You need to let it recover by not using your core, which unfortunately (or fortunately) is the basis of most anything you do- walking, running, sitting, standing, etc. Rest and relax, but do get up and walk around when you can or go out and enjoy the weather. Moving will help with the digestive system and will also help with the healing of tissue. Just don’t do what I did and overdo it by going to the mall to Christmas shop and end up there for 2 hours and then you’re exhausted- oops.
  10. SLEEP!: Remember that thing I said about your body burning a lot of calories to recover? You’ll be tired. Add to the fact that you’re probably on pain killers and you might be sleeping hours a day. Let your body rest and heal. That’s why you take off work and don’t schedule a single thing. I could barely get on the computer and type an email because I was tired. I slept until 12 noon one day. My body needed it. Let it rest.

So, there you have it. I hope this is helpful for those who might be looking for information on this surgery. I will keep everyone up-to-date on my recovery and what exercises I can do in the next few weeks. We head to Europe in two weeks so I’ve gotta make sure my body is primed and ready for a lot of walking and sight-seeing!

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy the holiday. As always, Stay Fit & Eat Delicious!

 

 

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Comments: 52

  1. d stuart January 5, 2014 at 2:31 am

    Great blog. Very informative and reassuring. Thanks

  2. Tierney January 26, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Thanks for posting this! I’m an ENT surgeon and I struggle with the whole issue of talking/not talking to patients after surgery. On one hand, I totally get that it’s weird not to talk to the person and get the information about YOUR BODY firsthand. On the other hand, it is hard to time when patient’s will be awake enough to remember with the workload of more surgeries in the same day. Then, add on that the recovery unit is in a different location and I’m trying to eat at some point…Honestly, my excuses for not doing so are pretty flimsy but it is hard in the day-to-day grind of work to add in that extra thing. But it’s a big deal! I definitely have made more of a commitment to actually talking to my patients afterwards. (And some of them are peds so that’s easy- in those cases, it’s ok to only talk to the parents!). So, thanks for the reminder in your blog post that patient’s perception that it’s strange is totally legitimate and I should keep making more of an effort. Thanks!

  3. leah February 10, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks so much for this post! I too searched and searched for anything about female inguinal hernia repair online and was disappointed about the lack of info out there! I had a small one repaired 3 weeks ago and found your site the week before. Curious about how recovery is going. What workouts did you get back into first and such. Are you back to all your previous workouts now at almost 2 months post op?

  4. Kate February 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m due to have an upper abdominal hernia repaired in 2 months time. It’s dead centre no right above my belly button, believe to be the result of carrying my second child (a big baby that was all out front). I’m reluctantly having to stop breast feeding him as I know I won’t be able to lift him to feed, even lying beside me in bed he tends to kick both legs into my tummy.
    Can I ask a couple of questions (pre op information has been non-existent)
    How long realistically was it until you could drive again and until you felt ‘back to normal’ with regards to lifting?
    I notice you had keyhole, this hasn’t even been mention as an option to me but I’m now going to contact the consultant and ask as all I’ve been told is I’ll have a cut up my abdomen around 2-3″ long.

    • Ashley Fleming February 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Hi Kate,
      I’m sorry to hear that you have a hernia. The good news is, once you are recovered, you will hopefully be back to doing everything you were before! To answer your questions- for driving, I drove once I was off the pain meds, so day 7 for me. You could probably drive before, but take your doctor’s orders on what he/she suggests.

      In terms of lifting, I could lift up to 20 pounds until week 6, but did very minimal exercising until then. Mostly walking, swimming and some light weights. After week 6, I was cleared to lift 25+ pounds and went cautiously up for the first two weeks. At week 8 I started my normal workout routine with added weight.

      Hope that helps and best of luck with your surgery!

      • Kate February 24, 2014 at 5:33 pm

        Ashley, that really does help (it also worries me as my youngest child weighs 25lb and I have no day time help).
        I think I’ve been rather naive as to the seriousness of a hernia and the recovery time needed. Thank you!

  5. Staci March 22, 2014 at 12:38 am

    Very good advice in your blog post. Thanks!

    Had my surgery yesterday and found your page today. Sounds like I’ve been doing some of what you suggested already. Been drinking more water than I normally drink at least. Today (my second day) seems to be a little more sore than when I left the hospital yesterday :( I have been up walking around occasionally. Hoping tomorrow is a better day. I haven’t been taking Colace/docusate either. But I take a magnesium supplement 2x a day anyway so I hope that will suffice. I agree with the two ice packs too. I have been rotating 2 of them all day today. My surgeon didn’t talk to me either. He talked to my husband after the surgery though. His office/clinic is attached to our hospital and I would venture a guess that he had patients at the clinic waiting for him for their appointments. He was still in surgery 2 weeks ago when I had shown up for my appointment. I’m hoping all well by Monday, because I have to go back to work. Yikes!

  6. Shelley April 5, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Thanks for all the info. I had a ct scan last week for something unrelated and they found a small fat filled inguinal hernia.. I was shocked as no symptoms and I thought only men got them! My doc says to just watch it for now!

  7. Courtney April 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    This was great info. I am second day post op from surgery. I actually had open surgery with insert of dual layer mesh. Still – this advise was very helpful and helped me feel at ease that I am doing all the right things and everything I feel so far are normal. Water, taking pain meds as instructed, stool softener, clean food, ice packs, rest with some walking are very key things!! I slept through the night and went 12 hours without pain meds. I do have a pain pump – On-Q – in the area of surgery however this morning I was reminded that I still must take my pain meds. The talking weakness was a surprise for me. Glad you had the same issue as again, it just reassured me. Again, great post! Thanks!

  8. Shelley April 14, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Glad to hear your done with the surgury and well into the recovery phase! I hear that the pain pump is the way to go! Did ot our dr. Advise you to have this or did you have to ask for it?

    • Kate April 25, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      I’m now patched up (abdominal hernia repair was Tuesday), aching and sore but starting to feel a bit better. Can anyone tell me if it’s normal though to feel most of the post surgery pain in a different location to where the hernia was? The nurse in post op didn’t know what had happened during the procedure and the surgeon had already left so I couldn’t ask but it feels as though the hernia may have been a lot bigger than I thought. Is it likely that he patched up another area too without telling me? This follows an ‘h’ shape from above my belly button (where we knew the hernia was) down to my left and about 3″ to the side in what feels like a vertical line. The scar is about 2 1/2″ and horizontal above my BB so not sure what to think

  9. seralo April 25, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I have had my inguinal hernia done for three days. I feel very well without taken the pain killer on the 3 day post op. One thing I would like to share with anyone who will have this procdure done; I had my surgery done by maxi anesthestic. That means monitoring sedation by anesthesiliogist not general anesthesia. I had a very comfortable operation day either in operating room or recovery room. You know why because I had a very good surgeon and anesthesiliogist and they know how to take care of me to have enough anesthetic to make me feel comfortable in 12 hours post op. I was able to change my clothes and go to the rest room in the recovery room.
    Now I need is the time to recovery totally and get me back to the track.

  10. Isabela April 28, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Hi Ashley,

    Thanks for sharing. I am also an athlete, and it has been frustrating not finding the reason for the pain and swelling on my groin area.
    Could you feel the bulge in the area or it almost felt like something muscular? I have experienced some swelling and they say its not a hernia unless you can push it in.

    How are you feeling now, a couple of months after surgery? Do you feel 100%? Any discomfort in the area?

    If you could let me know, I would def appreciate it. I am going home in 2 weeks and we’ll see, but the doctor may say I will need that.

    • Ashley Fleming April 28, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Isabela,
      In my case, I had a bulge that you could physically see. I am feeling great post-surgery- back to 100%. I am training for a few triathlons so I am running, biking and swimming and am also lifting 2 days a week (heavy weights) with no issue. Everyone is different in how they recover so follow your doctor’s recommendations for recovery and you should be set!

      Best wishes,
      Ashley

  11. Miss Kyle April 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Ashley,
    I am pleased to have found your post not only because as you say it is rare to find info on women with hernias, also, all the posts related to this are quite recent, not 4 years old!
    I am at day 8 since my open incision right inguinal hernia repair. The surgeon went in this way since the two ultrasounds and a CT scan all said cyst, but he suspected hernia. SO it was started as “exploratory” surgery with the option to repair or remove as necessary!
    I was off the narcotics after 48 hours, motrin and tylenol sufficing. I started walking the dog a little bit on day three and on four went down then back up a steep hill. While I was concerned I may have done too much with the latter walk, the next morning I found much more open leg movement. Now I just about have my full stride back but slower still than usual-I am usually a very fast walker. Yesterday and today however I am feeling a little more discomfort. I had gone the last 3 days with no over the counter drugs at all during daylight hours. Felt really great about that! Today I have gone back to motrin midday as feeling a lot of discomfort, pulling on the muscle going up towards the ovaries and down the front of the leg, similar to what I felt prior to surgery. This pain was gone for the past week till now. By the way, my hernia originally showed as a visible lump right next to a lymph node. My thinking is that the scar tissue which feels deep and hard (3″ incision 1″ above the leg crease) is now pressing on the ligaments, nerves, whatever which had previously been affected by the lump. I go for a follow up with the surgeon in 3 days. Will see what he thinks. Otherwise I am very pleased with the surgery and recovery-had a ventral hernia years ago and think that was more difficult to recover from. This has been a breeze, and it is challenging for a person who is used to being active and doing everything physical with no problem to hold still and heal. The daily walking has been a big part of recovery, walking a mile (though slower than preferred) on day 4 onwards has helped.

    • Shelley April 29, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      So glad to hear your progressing nicely! I was so happy to find this blog.. Not much out there on females with this problem. I still haven’t discussed mine in detail with my doc.. Mine was an incedental finding on an abdominal CT scan.. It came back with a note of interest of a “small fat filled inguinal hernia”. At least being women we don’t have to worry about the hernia going down into our testicles! 😉

  12. Miss Kyle April 29, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Now that I know I had a hernia and not a cyst/suspicious lump, I have been reading to learn more about these. I now see that the discomfort I had felt only periodically over the past 9 months was indeed the hernia and not a muscle cramp. Also, I am premenopausal and so thought the ache in my ovary area was hormonal fluctuation related. Now I believe it was the muscle that comes through this inguinal canal to the uterus. Ah, it all makes sense now!
    Also, having taken motrin earlier, I feel much better, the pulling ache is relieved and I now believe I need to take some of these OTC pain relievers a little more frequently and not be stoic, yet cannot let feeling better allow me to overdue it in this early recovery stage.

    • Shelley April 29, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      Yes I think it’s very important to keep walking, but don’t over do it! Take you OTC pain meds so your comfy.. The body heals better when it’s not fighting pain.

      I’ve read that so many women and doctors alike associate our pain and discomfort to ovary or other female type parts… And I’ve also read female ingunal hernias tend to be smaller and deeper than a mans.. So we feel the pain as the kind of crampy pain we sometimes feel or felt during ovulation. So now wondering if a lot of females just don’t get diagnosed properly? I know I do not have a bulge of any kind but yet according to the ct scan I have one

  13. Miss Kyle April 30, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Thanks, Shelley, I don’t think of myself as being stoic, but I tolerate a good deal of discomfort without thinking it is not normal. You are right, the healing will be better without fighting the discomfort/pain.
    I am sure there are a lot of women out there with minor/small herniations that do not become serious, yet are uncomfortable and interpreted as other monthly issues.
    In the few weeks prior tho the surgery which was scheduled due to conflicts for 4 weeks after I met with the surgeon (he would have done it at 3 weeks) I noticed “cramping” on the left side, so I expect I have a herniation on the left as well which is not bulged yet. My work is sometimes very physical and heavy, and since the ventral hernia repair (and back issues) I have reduced how much I will lift. But, I will still push beyond what I should physically do…so I will now keep an educated ear and mind on what I feel on the left. I have an idea what to be aware of-as do you, now! You are in a good place, learning and making yourself aware of what to look out for. Also, knowing that you have a hernia, you can probably keep yourself from aggravating it. Depending on what you do in your life, you may never have the hernia become an issue.

  14. Katie May 2, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I’m also female, an athlete, and have had an inguinal hernia for about a year and a half. I’m most seriously considering surgery this year, because it’s getting more irritating and uncomfortable and I’m sick of worrying about it.

    I’m concerned about surgery though and about how recovery will affect my training. It’s helpful to read another active female’s experience.

  15. Tomeka May 8, 2014 at 12:31 am

    This was a great post thanks for sharing your story. I’m currently 7weeks post op of bilateral inguinal and umbilical hernia repair. I wish I had read this prior to my surgery because there was nothing for female hernia repair and I felt as if I was a freak of nature lol. I’m feeling great and moving pretty well as of now but it was an uphill battle. I would love to get back to working out but I think I will start with a trainer just to make sure I don’t over do anything that can risk injury. How soon did you return to working out and did you incorporate weights into your routine? Thank you so much for this post

  16. Tracy May 28, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Hey there, stumbled across this post on pinterest. SO glad to find it!! I am 5 days post-op and am too struggling with the gas & bloating….no one told me a thing about that. Curious, how long did this last for you?

    • Ashley Fleming May 28, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Tracy,
      The bloating and gas lasted about 3-4 days or so. I’m sure every patient is different though!

      Best of luck,
      Ashley

  17. Issabela June 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    I went home and the doctors couldn’t diagnose a hernia. Did yours show on the MRI? I did 3 MRI’s and it didn’t show anything. Did you feel like it was soft tissue? Like, could you push it in, and it would go away sometimes?

    Mine I can’t…it stays the same all the time, a little bulge but I can’t poke it in. Almost feels like a very hard tissue, for the past 3 months.

    Can you share some of this with me? I literally been to 10 doctors, 5 surgeons…only one of the surgeons said its a hernia, but I am scared of getting surgery without having anything in the image and not knowing for sure.

    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Isabela

    • Ashley Fleming June 9, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Isabela,
      I did not have an MRI or any imaging to diagnose the hernia. I could see it-it would bulge out and I could push it back in. I don’t think most physicians image for hernias- from all the research I have done, they usually palpate to confirm. Sorry I can’t be more help!

      Ashley

    • Magda September 21, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      Try ultrasonograf – while standing up.

  18. Issabela July 9, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Still a mystery for me…did you feel like the tissue was kind of hard or it was very soft to the touch?

    How was your recovery back to Triathlon? I heard it can be very painful especially for riding a bike. Does it feel like something is pulling inside?

    Did the doctors say anything about the mesh and being pregnant? I am 25 and I would like to get pregnant someday, but I don’t want to do a repair and having to do it again after I get pregnant or something.

    Isabela

    • Kate July 9, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Hi Isabella,
      I hope this is of use, I’m by no means an athlete but I had an epigastric hernia repair done at the end of April. It was caused by my rather large baby (second pregnancy). I asked the surgeon if it was safe for me to have more children, he almost laughed, said that wasn’t something he’d been asked before (why?!? Quite an obvious and serious question I thought!) he reassured me that it was fine, just so long as I felt the twinges of recovery had passed. Anyway, that was 3 months ago and all is back to normal again now!

    • Ashley Fleming July 21, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      Hi Issabela,
      My hernia was very soft and I could push the hernia bulge back into the skin (if that makes sense). It was not at all hard, but that was just my case.

      My recovery back to triathlon and fitness in general has been very good. I was able to lift after 4 weeks and raced my first triathlon since the hernia repair in June (surgery was in December). I had no issues with training- running, biking or swimming..or lifting.

      I asked the doctors about getting pregnant and using a mesh and they had no issue with it and said I shouldn’t have complications. Again, that was my case specifically so make sure and ask your doctor what he/she thinks.

      Best,
      Ashley

  19. Lynne November 20, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have had an inguinal hernia for 5 years and am just about ready to have it fixed. My reluctance has centered around the recovery time as I like running and working out. I had been considering the Shouldice Clinic for surgery, but wasn’t sure if tension or tension free had the best results in women. You are so right in the limited amount of info available for women. Did your surgeon express why he thought mesh was the way to go? I have heard that some people feel / see the mesh afterwards. Has it bothered you at all? I appreciate your thoughts.

    • Ashley Fleming November 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Lynne,
      My physician felt like I was a good candidate for a polypropylene mesh- I’m assuming because there aren’t many other options that are widely used. I am almost one year post-op (in December) and have had no issues thus far and back to my normal workout routine. Best of luck!

  20. Adam January 12, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Wow, THANK YOU for such a detailed experience. I’m a male, found out I had bilateral inguinal hernia in late 2007 at 19, but have felt mostly fine since. Was sore this weekend and felt it bump up on the right side a little bit, which of course reminded me that I do have a hernia and need to be careful. I’m taking it easy before deciding on going to the doctor (I’m not sore right now, but monitoring this). Debating if I should have this or not.

    I am worried about the mesh and possible complications, because I know some peoples bodies just don’t handle a foreign object being put in and some people have suffered chronic pain from them. Did you research the other non-mesh methods? (Shouldice, Desarda). I know many people are fine with mesh, I just can’t help but worry the “what if”! And surgery is a fear of mine. I’m fit and don’t smoke, but still.

    I have to ask…how was urinating after the surgery? Does the soreness/pain make it difficult, or is it not that bad? I would ask about sleep, but knowing me, I won’t get much those first 2 days if I have this (and probably the night before).

    I live in suburbs of NYC, so hoping to find an experienced hernia surgeon, as i’m sure that makes the experience better when it is more of a specialty.

    Hope you continue to feel great!

    • Ashley Fleming January 15, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      nyyankees0128@yahoo.com,
      I did not research any mesh methods. I spoke with my physician prior to the surgery about the different options I knew of and he suggested that he would use a polyproplyene mesh which is best for my case. I suggest you do the same. Urinating was not painful for me, but that is my personal experience. You’ll need to speak with your physician about the post-operative affects.

      Best,
      Ashley

  21. matemi February 12, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Hi,

    I just had an umbilical hernia repair. Today is the 6th day and I’m not in pain. I did not use a mesh. However my concern is I wonder if my tummy will ever be flat again.I look like I’m pregnant. Please help did ur tummy ever gone down and what did u do?

    Thanks.

  22. N5SK February 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Thanks for posting your Inguinal Hernia Repair story, Ashley. I am a man who had conventional no-mesh open surgery late January 2015. I had to visit four surgeons before I found one who routinely does at least two conventional no-mesh open hernia surgeries every week. I believe that most surgeons (especially the younger ones) only do hernia repairs using large sheets of mesh but, from what I’ve read, using a large sheet of mesh seems to be associated with a slightly higher probability of more long-term pain. My surgeon said that he might have to use a very small strip of mesh for reinforcement if the tissues he was sewing back together weren’t in good enough shape: I asked my surgeon about using something like your company’s product (Biodesign pig intestine), but he said he prefers a narrow strip of plastic mesh. As you mentioned, your company’s product is absorbed but the plastic mesh isn’t. Fortunately, my surgeon didn’t have to use any mesh – and I seem to be OK. The most important thing is to find a surgeon who routinely does the type of operation that you want, and does it often. It would be nice if your company could make more surgeons aware of their Biodesign product.

    • Bill W October 23, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      Hope you don’t mind me asking, but where are you located, and who was your surgeon?
      I had just about decided that I was going to go to Ft Myers FL (Dr. Tomas) to get a non-mesh done, but I’m still looking to see if there is anyone closer to me (Indianapolis).
      Thanks!

      • Ashley Fleming October 26, 2015 at 12:25 am

        Hi Bill,
        Dr. Selzer at IU Health in Indianapolis did my surgery.

        Best,
        Ashley

  23. Emily March 11, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Thank you for this post! I’m going to be having open surgery for an inguinal hernia next week, and I was just curious if you had your round ligament removed during your surgery? My surgeon said he will most likely be removing it during my surgery. I’m still not clear on whether that’s a good or possibly a bad thing, so I was just wondering if you had any insight.

    Thanks!
    Emily

    • Ashley Fleming March 12, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Hi Emily,
      As far as I know, my doctor did not remove my round ligament. I would definitely seek out more answers to know if this is necessary. I know that throughout my pregnancy my round ligaments have been stretching and working hard to keep the uterus supported- I can’t imagine that a physician would remove it on a female (what would be the purpose?), but again, I have no idea. I would consult my physician and also get a second opinion.

      Best of luck,
      Ashley

  24. Lenore Cottrell March 15, 2015 at 11:18 am

    I also was happy to stumble upon this. I had an indirect left inguinal hernia (no bulge) undiagnosed for about two years. Went from the gyno to a Gastro back to the gyno before they diagnosed it via simple physical exam. I had laparoscopic repair with mesh done Thursday (today is Sunday). Thought I would share a little of my recovery. My doctor did not come speak with me after surgery which I also thought was odd. My stomach is crazy swollen and bloated. Here are some things that I didn’t see mentioned above:
    They didn’t allow me to leave the hospital until I urinated. Trouble was there was no urge. After a few hours I pushed out a tiny trickle and they let me leave. At first there was no problem as I didn’t feel any urge to pee. Then all the liquids caught up with me and I felt and urge but nothing would happen. I had to do kegels sitting there to get anything out. My bladder wouldn’t empty fully and I was up every hair the first night trying to pee as much as possible. The next morning after a cup of coffee I was finally able to go without pushing, straining or kegels.
    Another interesting side effect. My labia swelled up. The left side (hernia side) was a good 4-5 times larger than normal and the other side 2-3 times. The left side was totally black and blue and hurts to touch. Called doc and they said that was normal.
    The labia swelling went down some on Saturday but still very dis colored and painful. I left the house and went with the husband to run errands. It left me feeling tired and short of breath but it was good to get out. Only used pain meds before bed beginning Sat. I also must note that I don’t like to be far from a bathroom. As soon as my bladder fills I really need to go! I think it’s all of the additional pressure from the swelling.
    Hope this helps! So shocked you can’t find more about this online.

  25. Abbie April 19, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    Hello, everyone! So glad to have found this information! I just had laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair this past Thursday. The pain is much worse than I anticipated; I feel like my surgeon minimized it. I, too, am an athlete (runner mostly) and am anxious to get back to normal. I had planned to go back to work tomorrow, but I just can’t walk well enough yet.

    My stomach is still super bloated and I look pregnant. I haven’t had a bowel movement yet, despite taking the prescribed stool softener, lots of water, and high fiber foods. I’m trying not to overdo calories, as I am worried about gaining weight during this process.

    My labia and vaginal area are VERY swollen and black and blue as well. I look like a freak! But I’m hoping that will subside…

    Just wanted to share and thank you for sharing your story!

  26. Lucy June 9, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Hello Ashley,

    I am so happy I found your blog! I am finding that most doctors know little about long-term affects of mesh hernia surgery (I had open mesh surgery for a tiny inguinal hernia only barely seen by a sonogram). I have no idea how I got it in the first place (possibly an ovarian cyst which eventually erupted, that was fun). I had the surgery in August 2013, so I am going on two years. I feel discomfort in the area where the surgery was, but I cannot tell if exercise will help. Have you found that stretching/massage/exercise has helped you a lot in the long-term recovery?

    My digestion has been a little thrown off ever since surgery. Have you found that you feel perfect again since the surgery or do you have any abnormalities that you did not have pre-hernia? Doctors I have spoken too do not have clear answers, but I find it is easier to ask people who have gone through it as well.

    I cannot tell if my lower abdomen is just weak and tight or if it is other female issues I may have (though I have not had any abnormalities). I have not been working out too often (5-10 times monthly in the gym).

    Thank you for sharing this as well because it is difficult to find other women who have had this surgery for this particular hernia.

  27. Ayana Rich August 15, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    My doctor told me I had an inguinal hernia last year and I have yet to have a procedure done. At first I would feel pressure when I bent over to tie my shoes or picked up anything and that’s when she told me. But now I recently started working out again and instead of pressure it’s a slight pain, so I stopped working out. I have to see a surgeon to get x-rays and discuss procedures. I am glad that you posted your experience but I have to say I AM VERY AFRAID to go through with the surgery. I’m afraid, mainly to be under. I’ve heard some horror stories. But I know it has to be done, esp if I want to continue exercising. What’s so funny is, I had a c- section with my son, so the recovery process is the same thing, but at least I was awake for that procedure. *sigh* I’m not looking forward to it at all.

  28. Laura Bodiford August 28, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    I had a ventral hernia repair several years ago and now have an inguinal hernia that needs repairing. The one question that I didn’t see addressed in your very thorough and helpful account (and among the other comments) is regarding intercourse, specifically, how long is it before most women resume having sex after surgery? I can find loads of info online about men having sex after surgery, but nothing much else other than “when there’s no pain.” I just have a feeling that my husband is going to want to know… :)

    • Lenore Cottrell September 30, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      It was told 4 weeks nothing more than a casual stroll and no sex.

  29. jill October 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    What great advice. Thank you so much for preparing me for my inguinal hernia operation in 2 weeks. Will I be able to get to my 2nd floor apartment?? There are 12 steps. I cough every morning.. A lot! Like a smokers cough ( I don’t smoke!! ).. My asthma is bad. I know it is TMI, but, I have to get the stuff out of my lungs or I get bronchitis. They are called mucus plugs. I know it is gross..they are hard to get up without coughing vigorously. I also have a hip labral tear ( FAI ), but, they are not too hip (hahaha) to do arthroscopic repair due to my age (52) and arthritis.

  30. julie October 8, 2015 at 2:17 am

    Hello Ladies, this blog has helped calm my nerves. I am 48 had hysterectomy Dec 2014. Issue stared July 2015 feeling constipated. Stomach blowing up pain, went to ER took x-ray told me to do enema for constipation. Aug still having issues see Gastro, had colonoscopy results A +++++++++ on that end. Back to OBGYN who did Hysterectomy all good at that end, but she did order CT scan with contrast. Long story short took another CT scan without contrast. Went to Urologist because I started thinking I was falling apart. Very calmly he said Im going to send you to my surgeon friend and he is really wonderful. He made a phone call and got me in the next day. My surgery is set Oct. 20 2015. I feel soooooooooooo much better. Thank you for all your posts I am not crazy I just have a lingual hernia and am having the open surgery. Positive thoughts, prayers to all for quick recoveries.

  31. Dianne November 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you for your post. I’m having this surgery in a week and have struggled with the decision. I finally decided this isn’t going to heal on its own and don’t want to wait. I will start the new year with less pain. Thanks again.

  32. Crystal January 9, 2016 at 4:46 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I’m 26 and am having inguinal hernia surgery in just a few days. ..I agree with you that its nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find any info on FEMALE inguinal hernia repair! I love how you explained your journey from start to finish and you have helped ease my mind as I approach my surgery day. I’m eager to prepare in advance with your helpful advice! Thank you again!
    Crystal

  33. Chloe January 14, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’m getting my surgery for two inguinal hernias next month and I am debating between open repair and laparoscopic. My surgeon told me she could do either surgery (open recovery would hurt a bit more), but I’m concerned with scarring. How visible are your scars from the laparoscopic surgery?

    Thanks!

  34. Lisa W April 1, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I just had this surgery for the second time in a year. Everything you say is totally true! I was a thin, active woman, too. Shouldn’t have gotten one — nevermind it coming back in the same place. People, heed her advice! Take the recovery time that you can away from work. Don’t lift things. Rest — a lot.
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    ~ Lisa

  35. Susan Elmendorf April 9, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    I had bilateral hernia repair in Dec, 2016 at 51 years old. All the sudden my lumps got bigger and painful seeking me to see a doctor. I had laproscopic repair with mesh patches inserted. Was sore for a couple weeks, went back to work after one week. Vicodin and recliner was my friend for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks I had no restrictions, everything went great.

    Susan in Leawood, KS