You see it in movies all the time. Some guy gets hit right in the privates. Yow! If you're a boy, you probably already know your penis and scrotum are sensitive. Why? And more important, what do you do if you're having pain or another problem "down there"?
Let's start with some definitions.
You might have grown up calling it something else, but penis (say: PEE-niss) is the official word for this part of a boy's body. The scrotum (say: SKRO-tum) is the sac that hangs below and holds two small organs called testicles (say: TESS-tih-kulz).
The bones of your ribcage protect your heart and lungs. Muscles protect other internal organs, like your liver and kidneys. But unless you count your underwear, there's no protection for a boy's penis or scrotum. This area also has a lot of nerve endings — which make it extra-sensitive — so if a soccer ball accidentally whams into a boy in that spot, it really hurts.
Unfortunately, there are lots of ways for a boy to hurt his penis or scrotum. It can happen while he's riding his bike or playing sports. It can happen if someone bumps or kicks a boy there. Some sports require boys to wear special underwear with a shield, called an athletic cup, to protect the penis and scrotum, but most of the time boys don't wear this kind of protection.
The good news is that these injuries are not usually serious, though a boy will usually feel pain and could even feel nauseated for a while. The testicles are loosely attached to the body and are made of a spongy material, so they're able to absorb most collisions without permanent damage. Minor injuries don't usually cause long-term problems. But it's a good idea to tell a parent if you get this kind of injury, just in case.
If it's a minor injury, the pain should slowly go away in less than an hour. Meanwhile, your mom or dad could give you an ice pack to apply and some pain relievers to take. You also could lie down and take it easy for a while.
Sometimes, the injury might be more serious. Make sure you tell a parent so you can see a doctor if:
the pain is really bad
the pain doesn't go away in an hour
the scrotum is bruised, swollen (puffy), or punctured (has a hole in it)
you keep feeling like you are going to throw up or you keep vomiting
you get a fever
These are signs of a more serious injury, so seeing a doctor is a must.
Other Trouble Down There
It's also possible a boy might have pain in his scrotum or testicles, even if he didn't get injured or bumped. In that case, it could be an infection or other problem, so it's important that the boy tell his mom or dad.
Another kind of problem — a urinary tract infection (UTI) — can cause burning when a boy pees. Rashes and other infections can make a boy feel itchy or cause pain in the private zone. The bottom line is that a parent needs to know so the boy can get medical care.
What if a Boy Is Too Embarrassed?
Lots of boys don't like the idea of telling anyone about a problem with their penis, testicles, or scrotum. The good news is that a boy doesn't have to tell everyone — like his whole class! He just needs to tell his mom, dad, or another adult who can get him to the doctor, if needed.
It might be a little embarrassing, but if the problem isn't treated, it could get much worse and be really uncomfortable. We know one boy who found a tick on his scrotum. Good thing he told his mom and she could remove it. That was one rude tick!