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The Battle of the bulge
There’s a phrase that most men learn when they’re still young, which they never forget. It unites us in our masculinity yet reminds us of our vulnerability. “Turn your head and cough”. Utter those five words to virtually any English–speaking male and you’ll probably elicit a smirk, if not a twinge in the gut. It is, of course, the command doctors issue, when checking for hernias during a physical exam. Because they are poking and prodding in a very private part of the anatomy at the same time, the hernia exam probably ranks second on most guys’ list of least–loved medical tests. But, despite the smirks, hernias are serious business.

Did you know that hernias can grow to the size of a basketball? Doctors use the term “hernia” for any organ that protrudes into another. But generally when a doctor uses the word, he’s referring to an inguinal, or groin, hernia. Women can have them, but groin hernias are mostly a guy thing.

There are two different types of groin hernias. The first variety is caused by simple wear and tear. As you creep into middle age, the muscular wall around your abdomen develops a weak spot. Eventually, a hole forms and a portion of your intestine balloons through it, forming a kind of, like a bulge in an over–inflated inner tube.