Dear doctor,
Whenever I cough or sneeze, I get a sharp pain in my groin. It has been increasing lately and I am getting worried. What could this mean?
Duncan

Dear Duncan,
When you cough, you exert pressure to your tummy. This increased pressure will worsen any slight pain you may have in your tummy and the organs in there. The same can happen when you sneeze or even laugh hard. You have probably heard of instances of somebody passing wind or even urine when they sneeze. In your particular case, it is sounding as if you have some area of weakness in your lower abdomen. As such when you cough, the contents of your tummy tend to push down on the groin giving you pain in the process.

It would be important to know how long you have had this problem, what your main occupation is, whether you have had longstanding cough before and whether or not you have had a case of hernia in the past. Also, could you have had any operation on your groin area? If your work involves exerting a lot of effort such as lifting heavy weights or standing for long hours, the problem of hernia could be a real possibility. Hernia is when contents of, say the abdomen, push through a weak area, causing you pain and swelling.

On the other hand, you could be having a problem in one of your internal organs such as the bladder. Every time you cough, you would be exerting pressure on it resulting in the sharp pain. I am not suggesting that this is actually the case with you; it may be different. My opinion is that you visit a doctor and share with him your problem. You will certainly obtain help. If such help comes in the form of an operation on your tummy to reinforce the weak area, don’t hesitate to go for it. It may be the lasting solution for you.