In men and boys, the testicles hang outside the body in a pouch of skin called the scrotum. Because of their location, many types of accidents can cause testicular injuries.
Blunt trauma (a strike) causes about 75% of testicular injuries. Examples include:
- Getting kicked
- Getting hit by a baseball
- Motorcycle accident
- Bicycle accident
Other mishaps can cut or pierce the scrotum and injure the testicles. These include animal bites, bullet wounds, and accidents with machinery.
Types of Testicular Injury
Testicular trauma can cause different problems. That's because testicles are made of different types of tissue. The scrotum also contains other structures that are attached to the testicles.
Testicular injuries include:
Rupture. An injury can tear the tough, protective covering surrounding the testicle and damage the testicle. This is called a testicular rupture.
Fracture. Sometimes an injury will cause the testicular tissue to "break" -- with or without tearing the protective covering. This is known as a testicular fracture.
Contusion. When an accident injures blood vessels in the testicle, it can cause a contusion, which involves bleeding and bruising.
Torsion. A tube called the spermatic cord contains blood vessels that lead from the abdomen to the testicle. A scrotum injury can cause this cord to twist, which is called torsion. Torsion can also happen spontaneously, without an injury.
Hematoceles. These can occur when blood collects under a layer of the protective covering around the testicle.
Dislocation. Some accidents can push the testicle out of the scrotum. It may end up in the abdomen, near the pubic bone over the penis, or other areas near the scrotum. This most often happens in motorcycle crashes when the testicles collide with the gas tank.
Epididymitis. Testicular trauma can injure the epididymis, leaving it inflamed or infected. The epididymis is a coiled tube that holds sperm for a while after they leave the testicle.
Infections. Animal bites can also cause infections in the scrotum.
Degloving. In this type of injury, the scrotum is torn away, like removing a glove from a hand.
Symptoms of Testicular Injury
As many men and boys know all too well, a testicular injury typically causes substantial pain in the scrotum. There is sometimes pain in the abdomen, as well.
Other symptoms can include:
- Nausea (especially common with testicular torsion)
- Bruising or discoloration of the scrotum
- Swelling of the scrotum
- Blood in the urine
- Difficulty urinating
Diagnosing Testicular Injuries
It's important to see your doctor if you have more than a minor testicle injury. Some of these problems, like testicular torsion, are a medical emergency.
Serious injuries can cause you to lose the testicle or cause the testicle to shrink. They may also threaten your future fertility (the ability to have children). Seeing your doctor promptly can lower your chances of these complications.