Harvard Men's Health Watch

When it's okay to delay hernia surgery

Unless a hernia is causing you distress or limiting your activities, you can safely delay repair.

A dull ache and a lump in the groin or scrotum—these are the typical signs of an inguinal (groin) hernia. According to an August 2012 report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, about 40% of men will develop an inguinal hernia at some point in their lives.

The fix for your father's hernia was usually immediate surgery, but today you have another option: coexist with the hernia and seek surgery when the condition becomes painful or limits your activities. This approach is often called watchful waiting. "There are a lot of people who had hernias for a long period of time, and it didn't interfere with their life," says Dr. David Brooks, an associate professor of surgery at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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