Inguinal Ligament


What is the inguinal ligament?

The inguinal ligament is a set of two narrow bands in the inguinal area of the body (the groin). The groin is the fold where the bottom of the abdomen meets the inner thighs.

The inguinal ligament connects the oblique muscles in the abdomen to the pelvis. The oblique muscles wrap the sides of the body, from the ribs to the pelvis. The pelvis is the part of the skeleton that connects the trunk (upper body) to the legs (lower body).

The inguinal ligament is also called the groin ligament, Poupart’s ligament or Fallopian ligament.


What’s the purpose of the inguinal ligament?

The inguinal ligament has several important jobs:

  • Anchor the oblique muscles, abdomen and pelvis.
  • Provide the hips with flexibility.
  • Support the soft tissues in the groin area.
  • Support nerves and blood vessels as they pass through the groin to the legs.


Where is the inguinal ligament?

The inguinal ligament is in the pelvis. It’s actually two symmetrical bands. Each one starts at the anterior superior iliac spine (toward the back of the wing-like bones of the pelvis). The ligaments then run in and down at an angle to the pubic tubercle — that’s at the bottom center of the pelvis, very deep in the groin.

At the bottom of the inguinal ligament is the inguinal ring and the inguinal canal. In men, the spermatic cord passes through these structures. In women, the round ligament of the uterus passes through. In both genders, nerves and blood vessels pass through the inguinal canal.

What’s the inguinal ligament made of?

The inguinal ligament is made of connective tissue containing collagen, a protein that binds tissue together. It also has elastic fibers that are somewhat stretchy.

Conditions and Disorders

What conditions can affect the inguinal ligament?

Sometimes, part of the intestine or fat can push into the inguinal area. This condition is called an inguinal hernia. A hernia can occur in someone who:

  • Was born with a defect in the abdomen.
  • Develops weakness in the abdominal wall over time due to straining or heavy lifting.

What are the common signs of an inguinal hernia?

A person with an inguinal hernia almost always develops two symptoms:

  • Lump or bulge in the groin area.
  • Pain in the groin, especially when you lift, bend, strain or cough.

How common are inguinal hernias?

Inguinal hernias are common, particularly in men older than 40. About 25% of men will have an inguinal hernia at some point. Only about 2% of women develop the condition.

What treatment is available for inguinal hernia?

If you think you have an inguinal hernia, you should seek medical attention. It can cause serious problems if left untreated.

A healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and perform a physical examination. They may order tests, such as X-rays and CT scans, to take pictures inside your abdomen and pelvis.

A healthcare provider may be able to push or massage a hernia and put the tissue back in place. But that correction is usually temporary. Surgery, called herniorrhaphy or hernioplasty, is the only cure.


How can I prevent inguinal hernia?

Not all inguinal hernias can be prevented, but you can do some things to lessen your risk:

  • Exercise regularly without putting too much strain on the groin. For example, aerobics, light weightlifting and yoga.
  • Keep your abdomen strong by doing core exercises, such as crunches.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Avoid certain types of exercise that put extra pressure on the abdominal wall and bottom of the pelvis:

  • Excessively intense exercise.
  • Jumping exercises.
  • Lifting very heavy weights.
  • Squats.

Straining to poop can lead to an inguinal hernia. To prevent constipation and straining, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. You can also eat plenty of foods that are rich in fiber, including:

  • Fruits — especially berries — apples with the skin, oranges and pears.
  • Legumes, such as lentils, black beans, kidney beans, soybeans and chickpeas.
  • Nuts, including almonds, peanuts and pecans.
  • Oatmeal and bran flakes.
  • Vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli and peas.
  • Whole wheat bread and pasta instead of white, processed foods.

When should I seek medical attention?

An inguinal hernia can lead to serious problems, so you should seek medical attention if you experience:

  • A lump or bulge in the groin area.
  • Pain in the groin, especially when you lift, bend, strain or cough.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

The inguinal ligament is a set of two bands in the groin that connect the oblique muscles of the abdomen to the pelvis. Inguinal hernia is a common problem in the inguinal area, especially in men older than 40. If you have pain or a bump in your groin, talk to a healthcare provider.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/14/2021.


  • National Spine Health Foundation. Eat to Strengthen Your Bones, Ligaments, Cartilage, and Muscles. ( Accessed 6/29/2021.
  • Radiopedia. Inguinal ligament. ( Accessed 6/29/2021.
  • Sugumar K, Mohit Gupta M. [Updated 2020 Sept 19]. Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Inguinal (Crural, Pouparts) Ligament. ( In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Accessed 6/29/2021.
  • Teach Me Anatomy. The Inguinal Canal. ( Accessed 6/29/2021.

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