Problems after inguinal hernia repair 

Problems following a straightforward inguinal hernia repair are rare indeed but you do need to know a little about the kind of problems that might occur.

The following list is not meant to frighten you – and I’ll expand on each item at the end of the list.

Short term problems:

  • Bleeding – can always occur after any skin cut
  • Infection - can always occur after any skin cut
  • Damage to the blood supply to the testicle on the side of the hernia repair (very very rare with first time operations)

Medium or long term problems:

  • Recurrence – the hernia comes back – annoying (to say the least)
  • Discomfort / pain – long term
  • Problems with sexual activity
  • Problems with fertility 



Significant bleeding is extremely rare after open repair. If it does occur it is not life threatening, There may be a lot of blood on the dressing the evening of the operation and very very rarely the wound may need to be reopened under anaesthetic to find and stop the bleeding blood vessel. 

If the bleeding is deeper there will be swelling and a lot of bruising in the groin and scrotum after a few days.

If bleeding occurs during or after keyhole surgery it is likely to be internal and may be significant. It might require ‘conversion’ to an open operation during the procedure.

Discomfort / pain

Its annoying but rare – (there is a lot to say so see this link <Pain Or Discomfort> for further infoformation


In my personal experience this is very rare, less than 1%. If there is an infection – redness, swelling, fever and local pain it will respond to a course of antibiotics. I have never had to remove an infected mesh. I do read reports from ‘elsewhere’ of infection rates as high as 10%. Infection rates after hernia repair in the NHS (UK) are difficult to find out.

Blood supply to the testicle.

The blood supply to the testicle , arteries and veins, run through the inguinal canal. I have never seen a problem after a first time inguinal hernia operation. You simply move the blood vessels out of the way, and don’t damage them.

More of a potential problem is re-do surgery for an inguinal hernia. In this case the blood vessels, blood supply to the testicle, can be trapped in scar tissue. And during the operation some of these blood vessels can be damaged. The testicle may end up being a little smaller. Rare, rare rare.

Problems with sexual activity

The nerve supply and blood vessels that control erection are unrelated to the nerves and blood vessels that run through the inguinal canal. If you do hear of cases of erectile dysfunction after inguinal hernia repair they are likely to be unrelated and coincidental.

Problems with fertility

Currently an area of research. Some people say the sperm tube, the vas deferens, can be damaged during inguinal hernia repair, or from inflammation around the mesh. Very controversial and not proven. There is little good evidence.