"During a soccer game in college, I was accidentally kicked right in the junk. Now some ten years later I'm having trouble conceiving a child. Can a guy become infertile if kicked in the testicles?"
 -- Mike, 28,

Given their importance, you might think Nature would tuck a guy’s “family jewels” somewhere safe, inside the body, rather than suspending them in a soft, unprotected sac that is vulnerable to kicks, blows, and impact from all manner of hurled objects.

Unfortunately, the testicles need to be cooler than body temperature in order to make sperm cells. So they need to be out there, swinging in the wind, so to speak, which, as most guys know from painful experience, is not ideal.

Fortunately, despite their vulnerability, testicles usually recover well from the wide range of trauma to which they are exposed. In fact, this makes scientific study of testicular impact difficult—most of the time guys with testicle injuries are young, don’t see doctors, and just shake it off. But, in fact, a hard blow to the testicles can hurt your fertility and/or sex drive. In one of the few studies done on the issue, both hormone levels and semen quality were impaired in 6 of 9 men who had sustained testicular injury. Only 1 of these men, however, was actually infertile.

If you’ve been kicked in the testicles, or suffered some other blow, get checked out, because the earlier damage is repaired, the better your chances of preserving your fertility and your libido.

Dr. Harry Fisch is a board certified urologist. He’s here to answer reader questions in an effort to get guys to “man up about health.”