It hurts to even think about it. A baseball takes an unexpected bounce when you're
crouched and waiting to field a grounder, an opponent misses a kick on the soccer
field and his foot has only one place to go, or you're speeding along on your bike
and you hit a big bump. All result in one really painful thing — a shot to the
testicles, one of the most tender areas on a guy's body.
Testicular injuries are relatively uncommon, but guys should be aware that they
can happen. So how can you avoid injury?
Why Do They Happen?
If you're a guy who plays sports, likes to lift weights and exercise a lot, or
leads an all-around active life, you've probably come to find out that the testicles
are kind of vulnerable and can be injured in a variety of ways.
Because they hang in a sac outside the body (the scrotum), the
testicles are not protected by bones and muscles like other parts of your reproductive
system and most of your other organs. Also, the location of the testicles makes
them prime targets to be accidentally struck on the playing field or injured during
strenuous exercise and activity.
The good news is that because the testicles are loosely attached to the body and
are made of a spongy material, they're able to absorb most collisions without permanent
damage. Testicles, although sensitive, can bounce back pretty quickly and minor injuries
rarely have long-term effects. Also, sexual function or sperm production will most
likely not be affected if you have a testicular injury.
What Should I Do?
You'll definitely feel pain if your testicles are struck or kicked, and you might
also feel nauseated for a short time. If it's a minor testicular injury, the pain
should gradually subside in less than an hour and any other symptoms should go away.
In the meantime, you can do a few things to help yourself feel better such as take
pain relievers, lie down, gently support the testicles with supportive underwear,
and apply ice packs to the area. At any rate, it's a good idea to avoid strenuous
activity for a while and take it easy for a few days.
However, if the pain doesn't subside or you experience extreme pain that lasts
longer than an hour; if you have swelling or bruising of the scrotum or a puncture
of the scrotum or testicle; if you continue to have nausea and vomiting; or if you
develop a fever, get to a doctor immediately. These are symptoms
of a much more serious injury that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Serious Testicular Injuries
Examples of serious testicular injury are testicular torsion and
Testicular torsion is
when the testicle twists around, cutting off its blood supply. It's rare, but when
it does happen it's often for no obvious reason. Occasionally torsion is brought
on by a serious trauma to the testicles or strenuous activity.
Testicular torsion is an emergency. It usually affects guys ages 12 to
18, so if you think it's happening to you, go to the emergency room right
If doctors fix a torsion within 4 to 6 hours of the time the pain starts there's
usually no lasting damage to the testicles. But if a torsion isn't fixed within that timeframe,
there's a high chance of losing a testicle or having permanently reduced sperm production.
Doctors sometimes fix a torsion manually by untwisting the testicle. If that
doesn't work, they do a simple surgery.
Testicular rupture is a rare type of testicular trauma. This can
happen when the testicle receives a forceful direct blow or when the testicle is crushed
against the pubic bone (the bone that forms the front of the pelvis),
causing blood to leak into the scrotum. Testicular rupture, like testicular torsion
and other serious injuries to the testicles, causes extreme pain, swelling in the
scrotum, nausea, and vomiting. To fix the problem, surgery is necessary to repair
the ruptured testicle.
What Do Doctors Do?
If you have to see a doctor, he or she will first need to know how long you have
been having pain and how severe it is. To rule out a hernia
or other problem as the cause of the pain, the doctor will examine your abdomen and
In addition, the doctor will look at your scrotum for swelling, color, and damage
to the skin and examine the
testicle itself. Because infections of the reproductive system or urinary tract
can sometimes cause similar pain, your doctor may do a urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection or infection
of the reproductive organs.
How Can I Prevent Testicular Injuries?
It's wise to take precautions to avoid testicular injuries, especially if you play
sports, exercise a lot, or just live an all-around active life.
Here are some tips to keep your testicles safe and sound:
Protect your testicles. Always wear an athletic cup or athletic
supporter when playing sports or doing a strenuous activity. Athletic cups are usually
made of hard plastic, are worn over the groin area, and provide a good degree of shielding
and safety for the testicles. Cups are best used when participating in sports where
your testicles might get hit or kicked, like football, hockey, soccer, or karate.
An athletic supporter, or jock strap, is basically a cloth pouch that you
wear to keep your testicles close to your body. Athletic supporters are best used
for strenuous exercise, cycling, and heavy lifting.
Check your fit. Make sure the athletic cup and/or athletic supporter
is the right size. Safety equipment that's too small or too big won't protect you
Keep your doctor informed. If you play sports, you probably have
regular sports physicals
with a doctor. If you experience testicular pain even occasionally, talk to your doctor
Be aware of the risks of your sport or activity. If you play
a sport or participate in an activity with a high risk of injury, talk to your coach
or doctor about any other protective gear you should use.
Playing sports and living an active life are great ways to stay fit and relieve
stress. But it's important to make sure your testicles are protected. Make sure that
using protective gear is part of your routine and you'll be able to play hard without
fear of testicular injury!