Mention "inguinal hernia" to a man and he's likely to wince. It's another of those phrases, like "testicular torsion" or "penile fracture," that conjure up painful images of private parts.

Unfortunately, hernias are common. In fact, more than 1 million hernia repairs are performed annually in the United States, and about 800,000 are for inguinal hernias, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That's a lot of wincing, and with good reason, if you're concerned about your sexual health.

"When considering hernia repair, it is important to always think about the potential implications it can have on male sexual function," said Justin Dubin, M.D., a urology fellow specializing in male infertility and sexual medicine at Northwestern University. "This is because inguinal hernia repairs are performed in a region of the body where vital