It’s an eternal battle between men and women: what hurts worse, childbirth or a kick in the balls? While we don’t really want to weigh in on that subject, we do know that a nut shot isn’t exactly a tea party. Why does getting hit in the balls hurt so much more than any other part of your body? And how much damage can a low blow do to your boys?
Why Getting Hit in the Balls Hurts
Due to the amount of nerves they contain, the family jewels are a sensitive bunch. The male genitalia contains thousands of nerve endings- that’s why when things feel good, they feel really good, and when things feel bad they leave you in a crumpled, fetal, heaving mess on the floor. But the purpose of the nerve endings isn’t to torture you or make you feel good: they’re there to send the right signals to your brain.The biological function of pain is essentially to send a message to your brain:”Stop that, it’s bad for you. You’ll hurt yourself if you keep at it.” This is especially true with your testicles, which are a very delicate external organ. Balls also have very little bone, muscle, or fat to shelter your cojones from impact.
If balls are such delicate things, why are they hanging outside of your body instead of nestled internally with all the other important organs? This isn’t just Mother Nature having a practical joke at your expense. Your balls are hanging outside of your body to ensure the optimum environment for sperm production.
Healthy sperm require an environment about 4 degrees cooler than body temperature to thrive. Any higher, and sperm start to die. For more info on what heat does to sperm production, check out our article on heat and fertility. Since sperm require such a specific environment, your body has built in fail-safes to maintain those requirements. The Cremaster muscle, a muscle found in the scrotum, functions as that fail-safe. In a warm environment, the Cremaster muscle relaxes, allowing the balls to hang further away from the body and its heat. In colder environments, it contracts, pulling your balls up towards the body. It also contracts before an anticipated impact as a way to minimize the potential damage.
Does Getting Hit in the Testicles Affect Fertility?
Officially, getting hit in the balls is called “blunt testicular trauma”, and research into its long-term effects is pretty limited. But what research there is out there is pretty daunting. In one study, 6 out of 8 men who had undergone a blunt testicular trauma (aka nut bashing) were judged to have impaired fertility. Of course, the degree of damage largely depends on how bad the hit was. A simple sack tap probably won’t do much in the long term, but a full-on “you cheating jerk” kick in the balls might cause some medical complications and may result in testicular torsion or even testicular rupture which, when left untreated, could lead to the loss of the testicle.
What should I do if I get hit in the balls?
We’re going to preface this with the standard law suit avoidance statement: if you experience any extreme pain, swelling, redness, blood in your urine or large amounts of bruising, seek medical attention. However, if the pain is minor (well, as minor as a hit to the balls can be), here are a few tips to get through pain:
Put it on ice: Using an ice pack will reduce swelling and numb the pain. Just make sure that you keep a layer between your skin and the ice pack itself, that’s one area you definitely don’t want freezer burn.
Become a jock: Use a jockstrap to give your balls added support. They need it after what they’ve just been through.
Pop a pill: Take an ibuprofen. It’ll ease the pain and act as an anti-inflammatory.
Take it easy: If possible, avoid strenuous activity and rest up for a few days.
Wait it out: Pain should subside in about an hour. If it doesn’t, see your doc as soon as possible.
For more information on the causes of ball pain and treatment options, check out our ball pain article here.