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Contrary to popular opinion, hernias are not just a man's problem. In fact, according to Self magazine, more than one-quarter of all hernia repairs are done on women.

A bulge of soft tissue that forces its way through or between flawed muscle walls, a hernia can occur in the groin, abdomen, thigh or at the site of a surgical scar (such as a Caesarean section or hysterectomy).

Coughing, straining because of constipation, being overweight and lifting heavy objects can increase pressure on weak muscle walls, pushing the organ tissue through and leading to a hernia.

Because hernias tend to run in families, if either of your parents or grandparents have had one, pay special attention to the following preventive moves:

Shed extra pounds.

When lifting something heavy, use your legs to take the strain off your back and abdomen.

Don't overdo abdominal exercises such as sit-ups.

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