Getting kicked in the testicles is undeniably painful. For anyone who doesn't have testicles, think of a migraine but for your vagina and you'll have a rough idea of what it feels like. But could a kick to the family jewels actually kill you?
Well, enough of you have googled that question for us to take a delve into it, and the short answer is: yes, it's possible, but only in exceptional circumstances.
The earliest case report we can find where death is attributed solely to an injury to the testicles comes from 1843.
"In some parts of Germany, a barbarous custom exists, in cases of quarrel, of violently compressing the testicles," the case report reads. "M. Schlesier, of Peitz, relates a case of sudden death from this species of injury. The patient fell to the ground, was seized with violent convulsions, and died in a few minutes."
Unfortunately, the case report was light on details of how this pioneer of dying by injuries to the testicles died via injuries to his testicles, as well as why smushing the testicles of your opponents became a custom. However, more recent cases have redressed that balance.
The good news (should you have arrived here after a panicked google search) is that an injury to your plums is unlikely to kill you.
"External genital trauma is uncommon and rarely life-threatening but warrants prompt evaluation for proper management," a report in Urological Clinics of North America reads, adding that injuries to the area can cause "devastating long-term physical, psychological, and functional quality-of-life consequences".
The mechanisms by which testicular injury could lead to death are outlined in a few other case reports.
In one case, an 18-year-old injured his testicles while riding his bike. Two months after the incident, he experienced severe pain in the left of his scrotum, as well as a fever. The doctors reported that the teenager eventually died of Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome – an exaggerated defense response of the body to his injury and medical shock.
A second case involved a man who was hit in the testicles by a car, resulting in his death before he could be treated in hospital. During an autopsy, the team attributed his death to a hematoma covering the whole scrotum.
"Although attempts were made by expert doctors in [the] emergency department, they could not revive him," the team wrote in the International Journal of Medical Toxicology and Forensic Medicine. "No other injury over [the] body was sufficient to cause death individually in [the] ordinary course of nature.
"Examination of scrotum on autopsy revealed the extent of injury. Scrotal trauma was enough to cause death."
On the bright side, the team note that "male genital [is] less prone to injuries on virtue of its being a mobile anatomical structure". I.e. if you get punched in the penis or its friend (one of the testicles), it can escape the full impact by spinning out of the way like a helicopter.
The main mechanism by which injuries to the testicle could cause death, in fact, is through a lack of appropriate treatment.
"Yes – testicular rupture causes damage which if left untreated can lead to the tissue dying," one doctor told IFLScience. "This tissue death leads to necrosis and can eventually lead to death. Rarely!"
As with other injuries, seek advice from a doctor if you believe your symptoms warrant it, and you are unlikely to end up as one of the very few people who got balled to death.
All “explainer” articles are confirmed by fact checkers to be correct at time of publishing. Text, images, and links may be edited, removed, or added to at a later date to keep information current.