Most people won’t experience any negative long-term effects after hernia repair surgery.
In fact, the surgery may well improve any hernia-related pain or dysfunction that you were experiencing before.
Although a brief recovery period may be necessary, you should be able to start having sex soon after your surgery.
Read on to learn more about when to expect the green light and how to make you or your partner more comfortable.
No matter what type of hernia you have or what type of surgery is used to correct it, you can expect some soreness and swelling for at least a few days following the procedure.
The anesthesia may also leave you easily fatigued for a week or two. It wouldn’t be too surprising if you didn’t feel up to having sex for a while.
Your doctor may recommend that you avoid sex for a few days to a few weeks, depending on:
- the location of your hernia
- type of repair surgery
- your age and general health
- whether there were any complications during the procedure
There usually aren’t any restrictions on sexual activity after a laparoscopic surgery for inguinal hernia. You’ll probably have some discomfort around the incision site for a week or two.
For men, the scrotum may be discolored, tender, or significantly swollen after surgery. The swelling should subside within a week. You may be able to resume normal activity, including sexual intercourse, in as little as a week, but it can take longer.
Generally speaking, if you want to and it doesn’t hurt, it’s OK to have sex after any hernia repair surgery. But if it’s painful or uncomfortable, stop and give your body more time to recover.
Hernias can occur in:
- the inner groin (inguinal)
- the outer groin (femoral)
- the abdominal/ventral wall (ventral)
- an abdominal incision or scar (incisional)
- the belly button (umbilical)
- the upper stomach/diaphragm (hiatal)
The location of your hernia may play a role in your recovery time.
If your hernia was repaired in open surgery, your doctor likely made a large incision near the hernia to repair the weak area.
If your hernia was repaired with the laparoscopic method, your doctor made several smaller incisions near the hernia to repair the weak area. This procedure is considered less invasive.
Either type can be done with or without the use of surgical mesh.
Full recovery may take longer after open surgery as opposed to laparoscopic surgery.
If you have an inguinal hernia, it will probably be repaired with laparoscopic surgery using mesh. In men, the inguinal region is close to testicular structures and nerves crucial for sexual function.
You might experience bruising and swelling of the scrotum, penis, and testicles in the days after the procedure. However, there’s very low risk of injury to the blood vessels, nerves, or the sperm tube going to the testicle.
This procedure shouldn’t interfere with your ability to get an erection.
These symptoms usually aren’t associated with other hernia repair surgeries. There’s no risk of other hernia repair surgeries interfering with your ability to get an erection.
Pain is certainly a consideration in the days after hernia surgery. This is due to the incisions and your body adjusting to any implanted mesh.
In men who experience post-operative swelling of the penis and testicles, there may not be much desire for intercourse. It may be too painful, or at least quite uncomfortable for a while. Another factor is the location of the hernia and the muscles involved.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for how long to wait. Then, when you’re ready to try, choose a position that won’t put pressure on or irritate your abdomen.
Be prepared to stop if you experience pain or a pulling sensation at or near the incision site. If you’re having even a small amount of pain, it may be a good idea to wait until you’re fully healed.
You’ll probably be advised to avoid strenuous activities for a time, and that would include vigorous intercourse. Follow your doctor’s advice on this.
When the time is right, have a frank discussion with your partner about your concerns, what you’re comfortable doing, and what you’re not.
Here are a few other suggestions:
- Think about the area of the incision and any swelling you might have. Choose a position that won’t put weight on it, rub against it, or strain it. Be creative. There’s no wrong way.
- Ask your partner to take the lead.
- Start with very gentle movements and gradually increase activity as you gain confidence.
- Hold a pillow close to your abdomen to provide support during sex.
- Use a wedge pillow to create the right angle without having to strain.
- Opt for oral sex — it’s unlikely to cause pain or discomfort.
- Keep the lines of communication open and be willing to change position or stop if necessary.
Most of all, listen to your body. It will let you know if you’re pushing it. And remember, soreness and swelling after surgery are temporary; you’ll probably be back in the swing of things sooner than you think.
The road to recovery is an individual thing. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor about what you can expect.
You’ll probably have a follow-up appointment within a few weeks of the surgery. If you have tried but weren’t able to have intercourse due to pain, or if you’re worried about having sex, that’s the time to bring it up.
In the meantime, notify your doctor if you experience:
- redness and swelling at the incision site
- bleeding or foul-smelling drainage from the incision
- worsening pain, nausea, or vomiting
- difficulty urinating