The ilioinguinal nerve branches off the first lumbar nerve, which is near the lower back. It branches down the body through the second and third abdominal muscles and communicates with the iliohypogastric nerve, whose main function is to regulate the diaphragm and the areas around it. The ilioinguinal nerve moves further down the body, eventually branching out into the upper part of the thigh muscles and the upper part of the scrotum and the base of the penis (in men) and the mons pubis and labia majora (in women). The nerve provides sensation in these areas. During certain abdominal operations, such as hernia surgery, the ilioinguinal nerve must be carefully avoided, as severing this nerve will lead to pain in the thighs and scrotum or labis majora and a weakening of the local muscle fibers, which will lead to a direct inguinal hernia. Sometimes the ilioinguinal nerve may end at the iliohypogastric nerve. In this case, a branch of the iliohypogastric nerve will take over the nerve functions normally associated with the ilioinguinal nerve.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Ilioinguinal nerve