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Question : I have swelling just above my groin, in the lower part of my belly. It seems to go away when I lie down, but returns when I stand up? What could it be?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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October 01, 2013
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That’s a classic description of a hernia. A swelling in the abdomen when standing that goes away when lying down.

A hernia is an area of weakness in the abdominal wall muscles. This allows contents of the abdomen to push through the wall and form a pouch.

Since you notice the swelling just above the groin, it most likely is an inguinal hernia. That’s the most common type of abdominal hernia.

Many hernias cause no symptoms. Or at worse, may cause mild pulling or discomfort.

However, sometimes a hernia is large, painful or “stuck” (meaning that part of the intestines has bulged out and cannot move back in). Then, the intestinal tract can be blocked or lose its blood supply. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgery. Doctors call it an incarcerated hernia.

Some doctors recommend that all hernias get fixed, even small ones, to avoid the rare complication of incarceration.

Doctors generally recommend surgery to repair large or enlarging inguinal hernias well before these complications happen.

If your hernia is small and not causing any other symptoms, your doctor may discuss a "watch and wait" approach. You could hold off on surgery for now. But if the hernia gets larger or painful, you would need to have it repaired. And if you had severe pain at any time, you must seek immediate medical care.

The fact that your hernia is only visible when you stand up is a good sign. Doctors call it an easily reducible hernia.

You definitely want to visit your doctor. The two of you can decide whether to proceed with surgery sometime in the near future or wait until later.

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