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Football can be painful for men in more ways than one

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Football can be painful for men in more ways than one


With the Euros nearly finished, I decided to discuss a rather “painful” but usually not serious football injury. Getting hit in the testicles with a football, or any other object, can be an extremely painful experience, and multiple impacts can exacerbate the severity of the injury. This article aims to describe what a man deals with physiologically and emotionally when this happens. As a man, I will give the caveat, that men are quote “less able to the deal with pain than women”, but getting hit in the testicles, as any man will agree, is of the most painful experiences any man can experience.


Immediate Pain Response

When the testicles are struck, they send intense pain signals through the body's nervous system. The testicles are highly sensitive because they are rich in nerve endings, and they are not protected by bones or much muscle. The pain is often sharp and immediate, causing a doubling-over reaction.


Pain Transmission and Sympathetic Response

The pain from the testicles is referred to the abdomen and lower back because the same nerve pathways (the spermatic plexus) supply these areas. This can cause nausea, sweating, and a feeling of needing to vomit. The body's sympathetic nervous system responds to the pain by increasing heart rate and blood pressure, and sometimes causing a stress-induced release of adrenaline.


Swelling and Bruising

After a hit on the testicles, they may start to swell and become tender. If it happens more than once in quick succession, repeated trauma exacerbates swelling, and bruising may become visible. Blood vessels in the testicles can break, leading to haematoma, where blood pools in the tissues, causing further pain and swelling.


Inflammatory Response

The body’s immune response kicks in, sending white blood cells to the area to manage any potential damage and prevent infection. This inflammatory response can cause additional pain and swelling, making the area more sensitive to subsequent impacts.


Physical and Emotional Trauma

Being hit repeatedly in the testicles can lead to a fear of further impacts, causing a defensive posture and anxiety. The psychological aspect of anticipating another hit can exacerbate the perception of pain and discomfort.


Potential Long-Term Effects

Repeated trauma to the testicles can have serious long-term consequences. The delicate structure of the testicles makes them vulnerable to damage that can affect fertility and hormone production. Persistent pain and swelling might indicate more severe damage like testicular torsion (twisting of the testicles), epididymitis (inflammation of the tube at the back of the testicle), or even rupture. These conditions may require medical intervention to prevent permanent damage.


Management and Treatment

After experiencing such trauma, immediate management includes applying ice to reduce swelling and pain. Rest is crucial to allow the body to heal. Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen can help manage pain and inflammation. If the pain is severe or persists, seeking medical attention is essential. A doctor might perform an ultrasound to check for internal damage and provide appropriate treatment.


Psychological Impact

Repeated injuries to a sensitive area can lead to long-term psychological effects. The fear of pain can lead to hypervigilance and anxiety. In some cases, individuals might experience a form of trauma that makes them overly protective or anxious about engaging in activities that could result in similar injuries.


Disclaimer: As I play regular 5 a side, this article was inspired by one of my teammates who happened to get hit in “that region” three times within a few minutes at a game we played a few weeks ago. Luckily for him, and in fairness to him, despite the initial pain and discomfort, he played on and was back the next week did not “seem to” suffer from the potential psychological effects such as “anxiety” of being hit again etc described earlier 


For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore). Or

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