A hernia is unlikely to cause erectile dysfunction (ED) or affect sexual function directly. However, some people may experience temporary sexual issues after surgery to repair certain types of hernias.

Surgery to repair a common type of hernia known as an inguinal hernia may cause pain that can affect sexual function until the area heals.

An inguinal hernia occurs when contents of the abdomen bulge through weak areas in the abdominal wall on either side of the groin.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), about 27% of adult males develop an inguinal hernia at some point.

This article discusses hernias and male sexual function, hernia repair surgery, ED, and more.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

Was this helpful?
A man in a hospital gown awaiting surgery for a hernia. Share on Pinterest
Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

A hernia is not likely to cause ED directly, as no sexual organs are involved in their development.

However, some males may experience temporary sexual dysfunction after they undergo surgery to repair a hernia.

Inguinal hernias mainly affect males and are the most likely type of hernia to have some effect on erectile function due to their location in the groin.

Doctors will most often treat inguinal hernia with surgery. Without treatment, a person may be at risk of serious complications, such as the death of tissues inside the hernia.

Learn about male sexual problems.

A 2020 review of studies involving 4,884 people found that some males experienced pain and sexual dysfunction after surgery to repair inguinal hernias.

It found that around 9% of the males experienced pain during sexual activity, and around 5% experienced sexual dysfunction. The study defined sexual dysfunction as having difficulty completing intercourse.

However, pain and sexual dysfunction after inguinal hernia repair are typically temporary.

Other research has found that inguinal hernia surgery can positively affect sexual function. A 2016 study found that males experienced improved sexual function after surgery compared with the preoperative period.

The researchers noted that pain or a bulge in the groin from inguinal hernias could affect sexual function. Hernia repair surgery significantly improved sexual function in the participants, especially in the later period after surgery.

Learn about hernia repair surgery.

A person should discuss with their doctor when it is safe to engage in sexual activity after the surgery. People can usually resume daily activities within 3–5 days following the procedure.

There may be some mild pain and swelling in the groin area and testicle after surgery, and a doctor will recommend pain relief options.

The pain typically recedes within 2 weeks, but a person should contact their doctor if it is severe or persistent.

ED that results from hernia repair surgery is typically temporary.

However, if a person is concerned about their sexual function or if ED persists, they should contact a doctor. They may recommend treatments and tips for managing ED.

Treatments for ED depend on the cause of the issue. Treatments may include:

Overall, doctors associate inguinal hernias with a good outlook if a person undergoes surgery to repair the hernia.

Although some people may experience sexual dysfunction and pain after surgery to repair a hernia, this is usually temporary. Surgery to repair a hernia can lead to an improvement in sexual function.

If a person does not receive treatment for an inguinal hernia, they are at risk of serious complications. The blood flow to the hernia can be cut off, causing tissues to die.

This can also cause intestinal obstruction, which is when food or fluids become blocked in the intestines. It can be life threatening.

This section answers common questions about hernias and ED.

Can a hernia cause low testosterone?

A 2018 animal research study suggests that certain hormones, such as estrogen, may play an important role in forming inguinal hernias in male mice.

However, there is no evidence that hernias directly cause low testosterone in human males.

According to the study, inguinal hernias most often affect older men, who typically have lower testosterone levels.

Can hernia repair cause ED?

Some people may experience temporary ED due to pain after surgery.

What is a common complication of a hernia?

The most frequent complication is the strangulation of tissue inside the hernia. This cuts off blood flow to the hernia, and the tissue inside it can die.

Hernias, such as an inguinal hernia that people can develop in the groin area, are not likely to affect sexual function or cause ED directly.

Sometimes, people experience temporary sexual dysfunction after surgery to repair the hernia.

However, surgery to repair a hernia can have a positive effect on sexual function, as it can alleviate pain and the bulging of tissue in the groin.

A person should not avoid treatment for a hernia — without treatment, a hernia can develop into serious complications.