An inguinal hernia (say "IN-gwuh-nul HER-nee-uh") occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in the groin muscle.
Most inguinal hernias happen because an opening in the muscle wall does not close before birth as it should. This leaves a weak area in the belly muscle. When tissue pushes through the muscle, it creates a bulge.
See a picture of an inguinal hernia .
The main symptom of an inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin or scrotum. It often feels like a round lump. The bulge may hurt or burn. It may form over a period of weeks or months. Or the bulge may appear all of a sudden after you lift heavy weights, cough, strain, or laugh.
If you have an inguinal hernia, it won't heal on its own. Surgery is the only way to treat it. For more information, see the topic Inguinal Hernia.