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 Testicular Injuries Happen
and What Can You Do?
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.
You'll definitely feel pain if your testicles are struck or kicked,
and you might also feel nauseous 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
rupture. In the case of testicular torsion, the testicle twists around,
cutting off its blood supply. This can happen due to a serious trauma
to the testicles, strenuous activity, or even for no apparent reason.
Testicular torsion isn't common, but when it does happen, it most
often occurs in guys ages 12 to 18. If it occurs, it is crucial
to see a doctor as soon as possible - within 6 hours of the time
the pain starts. Unfortunately, after 6 hours, there is a much greater
possibility that complications could result, including reduced sperm
production or the loss of the testicle. The problem may be fixed
by a doctor manually untwisting the testicle. If that doesn't work,
surgery will be necessary.
Testicular rupture can also happen, but it 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.
Seeing a Doctor
If you have to see a doctor, he or she will first need to know how
long you have been experiencing pain and how severe your discomfort
is. To rule out a hernia or other problem as the cause of the pain,
the doctor will examine your abdomen and groin. 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.
Preventing Testicular Injuries
It's a good idea 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
- Protect your testicles. Always wear an athletic cup or athletic
supporter when playing sports or participating in 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 when participating in
strenuous exercise, cycling, or doing any 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 as effectively.
- Keep your doctor informed. If you play sports, you probably
have regular physical exams by a doctor. If you experience testicular
pain even occasionally, talk to your doctor about it.
- 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 additional protective gear
you should use.
Participating in 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. When you're exercising or playing
sports, make sure that using protective gear is part of your routine
and you'll be able to play hard without fear of testicular injury!