Kicked between his legs — Pain? Sterility?

(1) Dear Alice,

Why are hits in the testicles so painful??

(2) Dear Alice,

I accidentally kicked my brother between the legs yesterday and it seemed to hurt him a great deal. I know that I may have done some real damage — my mother said I should never kick him in the balls cause it can stop him from having kids. Could I have made him sterile? He was doubled up on the ground for about five minutes coughing and crying.

Dear Readers,

Ouch! Hits to the testicles can really hurt because the genitals have a high concentration of nerves compared to other parts of the body (where nerves are more spread out). Also, the testes and penis are not protected by muscles and bones like most other organs in your body, making them more vulnerable to injury. On the other hand, male genitals are loosely attached to the body and made of spongy tissues which allow many bumps and hits to be absorbed by the body. Even so, while a light touch to the testes can feel good, a tight squeeze, hard yank, or heavy kick to the balls can leave you rolling on the ground in pain and even feeling nauseated. Fortunately, with most blunt traumas such as a kick or a punch to the groin, the pain will subside within an hour and fertility will not be affected.

However, see your health care provider immediately when testicular injuries are more severe. If the pain sticks around for longer than an hour, if bruising or swelling on one or both testicles develops, if you have a puncture wound on or near your genitals, if your nausea and vomiting do not fade, or you develop a fever, don't wait to see your health care provider. These symptoms can be signs of more serious injury — such as testicular torsion or testicular rupture — which may affect male fertility or require surgery to fix.

For anyone experiencing a run-of-the-mill misaimed soccer kick doozie, there are a few things you can do to make yourself more comfortable. Take a time-out and try:

  • Taking a couple pain relievers
  • Lying down for a while
  • Icing your groin
  • Changing into supportive underwear

Listen to your body as you recover from the blow and don't engage in any strenuous activities until you are ready.

In the future, avoid the pain associated with these types of injuries by considering some preventative actions. If you're an athlete, using a cup during contact sports will help protect your jewels. Cups are generally made of hard plastic and fit snuggly and comfortably around your genitals. During activities in which it is unlikely the testes will receive a direct hit but could use some extra support, an athletic supporter (jock strap) will support the boys and keep them close and controlled for the duration of your activity.

Check out some of the Related Q&As for more information.

Last updated Jun 25, 2015
Originally published Oct 15, 1999

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