A groin shot should only be reserved for the brave souls on Jackass putting their nuts on the line for your entertainment. But if your boys have been on the unfortunate end of a boot, fist, or other blunt object, you know the pain.
For the most part, the aftermath of a nut shot involves some stabbing stomach pain, doubling over, a (perhaps failed) attempt at revenge, and then you’re back to normal. More severe encounters may need some Advil and an ice pack, but your crown jewels bounce back.
So what are the worst case scenarios? What should you look for after your balls get pummeled? And why does it hurt so damn much? Read on, you inquisitive soul.
Why Does Getting Kicked in the Balls Hurt So Much?
Unlike other organs—protected by muscles and bones—your testicles rely on your scrotum for defense. No disrespect, but that’s simply a sac of skin and smooth muscle in charge of protecting your highly sensitive stones from not just a kick, but any trauma to your manhood.
“There are a lot of nerve endings around your testicles,” says urologist Wagner Baptiste, M.D. “Because your testicles are tasked with creating sperm—which are vital for procreation—that pain and hypersensitivity alerts your body of danger to protect them.”
Why Do You Feel Testicular Trauma In Your Stomach?
“Your testicles and kidneys originate in the same spot deep in your abdomen,” says Baptiste. Over time, your kidneys settle into their place—near the middle of your back just under your rib cage—and your testicles descend to your scrotum.
Even though these organs go their separate ways, what remains is the same nerve structure.
“Your spermatic cord is a major nerve that spans from the inside of your belly to your testicles,” Baptiste says. “In the course of your testicles moving into your scrotum, many other nerves follow suit.”
That double whammy of ball and stomach pain sucks, but you can thank biology for that one.
You Just Got Hit. Now What?
Right after a kick to the gonads, you want to do a self-exam.
“You’re looking for immediate swelling from testicular rupture,” says Baptiste. “Your tunica albuginea keeps your testicles in place,” he says. “If this ruptures, it will swell up significantly because blood from your testicles fills up in your scrotum.”
You’re also looking for bruising or discoloration of your scrotal skin, he adds.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If immediate swelling occurs, get to a doctor or urologist immediately. “There is a chance your testicle can die and you need surgery to put your tunica back together,” Baptiste says.
How Do You Recover From the Pain?
If you’re on the unfortunate end of a kick to the nuts and there is no real trauma, elevate your testicles. “You can wear a jockstrap, or put a small rolled up towel under your sac to keep your testicles elevated,” Baptiste says.
Lucky for you, recovery is fairly simple with Aleve or ibuprofen and an ice pack. Your pain should subside after around an hour.
“There still may be slight swelling that can last up to 6 weeks,” Baptiste says. “The difference with a rupture is the size and immediacy of your swelling, and the intensity of a sharp pain.”
Can a Kick to the Balls Cause Permanent Damage?
Yes, but not always.
Depending on the severity of your injury, it may reduce testosterone production and cause fertility issues, as well as cause more serious injuries that require medical attention. Here are some of those issues:
Testosterone deficiency and fertility issues
In the absolute worst case scenario, if you’re left with only one testicle as a result of an accident, your other testicle takes charge and may actually get bigger to compensate for your loss.
“Because your testes aren’t in a fixed position, it’s highly uncommon that both testicles will be affected by a kick or another form of trauma,” Baptiste says. “Your remaining testicle undergoes compensatory growth—an enlargement to help replace an absent or damaged testicle—so you still produce testosterone and sperm.”
“That’s the beauty of having bilateral organs.”
A strong enough kick can essentially cause your testicle to turn on itself and cut off circulation of the spermatic cord, says Baptiste. “Called testicular torsion, this stops blood flow, and if the cord is twisted for too long, your testicle can die.”
To prevent further twisting, you may have surgery that puts sutures on both testicles and attaches them to your scrotum. This prevents them from further turning on themselves, Baptiste says.
(Want nightmares? Testicular torsion can also happen randomly while you sleep.)
Let’s say you get booted in the balls and your scrotum and tunica albuginea come out unscathed. There’s still a chance your epididymis took the brunt of the blow.
“Your epididymis is a tube at the back of your testicles that acts as a nursery for sperm to mature,” Baptiste says. Eventually sperm travels from your epididymis to your vas deferens and off to the rest of the ejaculatory process it goes.
But serious trauma can cause your epididymis to swell, and this inflammation is a condition called epididymitis. “This swelling pushes against blood vessels that travel along your epididymis and cuts off blood flow, causing pain and discomfort,” Baptiste says.
Fear not. You can elevate your testicles, use an anti-inflammatory, and ice your groin to relieve this pressure.
A shot to the groin won’t cause testicular cancer, but it may help you identify it.
“It’s very common for men to identify pre-existing testicular cancer post-trauma because it alerts them to examine their testicles,” Baptiste says. “If you feel a lump in either testicle, get to a urologist for the right diagnosis.”
Aside from keeping your junk out of direct line of fire, your next best bet might not be the most comfortable. “If you play a sport or work in an environment with hanging or suspended heavy machinery, don’t be afraid to wear a cup,” Baptiste says.
What if You *Like* Getting Hit in the Balls?
If that’s your kink, no shaming here. Godspeed, but just take Dr. Baptiste’s advice and watch for swelling, bruising, or discoloration to keep your sex life—and your gonads—free from harm.