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Genital Injury In Males

Alternate Names

  • injury to the genitals
  • straddle injury
  • penile injury
  • injury to the testicles
  • Male genitourinary system

Definition

A genital injury in a male is an injury to the penis, testicles, or the structures within them. The injury may occur as a result of trauma, sexual assault, or a disease process.

What is going on in the body?

Since the male genitals are located outside of the body, they can easily be injured. Injuries can be mild, from a slight cut or unintentional hit, to more severe trauma. The genitals are very sensitive to pain or injury because they have a large blood and nerve supply.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

A male may have a genital injury if he:
  • is crushed in a motor vehicle crash
  • falls and fractures his pelvis
  • falls onto something, such as a bar, with one leg on each side of the object
  • catches the skin of his penis in a zipper
  • falls on a pointed object
  • has the toilet seat fall onto his penis while urinating
  • has a high-pressured stream of water from a jet ski or water ski, water chutes, pool or jet spas shoot out directly at him
  • takes part in excessive and strenuous physical activity
  • has certain conditions that cause the blood supply to the testicle to be cut off
  • has a sexually transmitted infection, such as chlamydia, that causes scarring and damage to the genitals
  • has infection in the area of the pelvis or genital region that spreads along planes below the skin, known as a type of gangrene termed Fournier's.
  • has disease that involves the male genitalia, such as testicular cancer, penile cancer, or cancer of the prostate

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the condition?

Sports safety guidelines for children, adolescents, and adults can be helpful in avoiding genital injuries. For example, a male can protect himself by wearing a jock strap and cup.

Diagnosed

How is the condition diagnosed?

A healthcare professional needs to ask questions about the genital injury and do a physical exam. Without a thorough exam, a healthcare professional may underestimate the extent and severity of the injury, especially in a person who is young, frightened, or uncooperative. Any patient with suspected genital injury should seek medical assistance immediately.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Long-term effects will vary depending on the cause of the genital injury. Some injuries, such as a cut or small bruise, may heal completely. Other injuries may cause recurrent infection if there was damage to the urinary system, scarring, or atrophy of the testes. If the penis was actually cut off and had to be surgically reattached, the male may have decreased feeling or erectile dysfunction.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

A genital injury is not contagious in and of itself. If the injury is caused by a sexually transmitted infection, the infections may be passed on to a sexual partner.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment depends on the severity and extent of the genital injuries. The male may need:
  • ice packs and pressure to be applied right away, and bed rest
  • large pools of blood to be drained
  • sutures for any cuts
  • surgery to repair any bladder, bowel, or rectal damage and to treat conditions such as testicular torsion
  • microsurgery if his penis needs to be reattached
  • antibiotics to treat or prevent infection
  • pain medication
  • a soft athletic support or jock strap to provide support and decrease the pain in the testicles
  • a urinary catheter if urine is blocked by swelling or the urinary system is involved in the injury
  • psychotherapy if sexual assault occurred

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Antibiotics can cause stomach upset, rash, allergic reaction, and other side effects. Surgery can be complicated by infection, bleeding, scarring, or reactions to anesthesia.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

Bed rest, ice packs, and antibiotics may be needed, depending on the extent of the genital injuries. The male should avoid sexual intercourse until the tissues have healed.

Monitor

How is the condition monitored?

A healthcare professional should be consulted about any new or worsening symptoms. If sexual assault is involved, the professional should be contacted if the person has severe depression or suicidal thoughts.

Sources

Taber's cylcopedic Medical Dictionary, F.A. Davis, 1993

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, Fauci, 1998

Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness&Surgery, H. Griffith, M.D, 2000

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