A shot to the balls may be played for laughs on screen, but testicular impacts really aren’t a joke. In some cases, it’s enough to send someone to the emergency room for medical care. Worse case scenario, getting hit in the balls can affect fertility thanks to complications like sexual dysfunction, low testosterone and other issues. Let’s discuss.
- The testicles are sensitive organs that are vulnerable to impact because of their placement outside the male body.
- Most testicular injuries are blunt trauma, with symptoms that range from pain and swelling to nausea, vomiting and fever.
- While most cases of testicular injury won’t affect a man’s fertility, a severe enough injury or an infection left untreated could reduce sperm production or lead to low testosterone.
A Pair of Sensitive Organs
Testicles—the small, egg-shaped organs housed in a man’s scrotum—are where sperm and testosterone are produced. Since sperm is sensitive to heat, the testicles hang outside the body, which makes them more vulnerable than other sexual organs. Everyone knows that a swift kick to the balls is a good way to disarm a man, and that’s why.
The majority of testicular injuries come from blunt trauma, and symptoms can be pretty painful (1):
- Localized pain, though it can spread up to the abdomen
- Scrotal bruising and swelling
- Difficulty urinating
- Blood in urine
Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may involve ice, downtime and OTC pain relievers or antibiotics if there’s an infection. Significant internal injuries may require surgical interventions.
Testicular Impact & Male Fertility
In most cases, getting hit in the balls won’t doom your chances of fatherhood. But a serious enough testicular injury left untreated does have the potential to affect fertility in a few ways—and that’s true even if the accident happens during childhood (2):
- Reduced sperm production. There are a few ways that damage to the testicles can impair sperm production. The formation of scar tissue can be a physical limitation, while an untreated infection can damage the epididymis. This is the tube through which sperm move from the testicles. Testicular torsion, an injury in which the spermatic cord inside the testicle becomes twisted, can lead to tissue death and is associated with multiple issues, including low sperm count, motility and morphology (3).
- Low testosterone. Hormone balance can be thrown out of whack following a blow to the testicles. Low testosterone levels have their own impact on a man’s fertility by reducing sperm count, affecting libido and making it difficult to maintain an erection.
To minimize the risk of long-term injury, don’t wait to see the doctor, especially if you’re experiencing significant swelling or bruising, worsening pain, fever, or blood in your urine. According to one study, testicular rupture (a tear in the testicle covering) has a far better chance of being properly repaired if surgery occurs within 72 hours of the accident (4).
The Bottom Line
Accidents happen, even if you’re being careful. But starting from a place of knowledge is usually best. Here at Beli, we’re big fans of being proactive about your fertility health. It’s why we’re on a mission to raise awareness about preconception health and the value of men’s prenatal vitamins. Long story short: if you get hit in the balls, see your doctor sooner rather than later!
1. Testis injury. (2023). https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/testis-injury
2. Nassau, D et al. (2019). The pediatric patient and future fertility: optimizing long-term male reproductive health outcomes. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0015028220300030
3. Zhang, X et al. (2020). Effects of unilateral testicular torsion at different ages on male fertility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7175056/
4. Blok, D et al. (2019). Testicular Rupture Following Blunt Scrotal Trauma. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/criem/2019/7058728/