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Injuries and Medical Advice

Hydrocele, Spermatocele and Strained Groin

"​I was toproping indoors, fell about three feet and felt a sharp pinch near where my penis meets my abdomen."

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Is it the harness or the wide crack? Both can crush your manhood, causing lingering problems. Bob Scarpelli, sacking up for an undone project, Vedauwoo, Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Greg Epperson.
Is it the harness or the wide crack? Both can crush your manhood, causing lingering problems. Bob Scarpelli, sacking up for an undone project, Vedauwoo, Wyoming. Photo: Courtesy of Greg Epperson.

I was toproping indoors, fell about three feet and felt a sharp pinch near where my penis meets my abdomen. The next morning my scrotum was severely swollen and bruised, and the left side of my groin still hurt. An ultrasound revealed a hydrocele, spermatocele and strained groin, and that I should be OK in two to three months. It has been 11 weeks and I no longer have pain during daily activities. However, I tried running last week and had swelling in my scrotum. Light climbing yesterday produced no swelling. Are a hydrocele and spermatocele typically associated with groin sprains? Are there any treatments or tricks in addition to rest that may help my condition (wear a jock strap? ice? heat?)? At what point should I either start climbing fully or go back to the doctor for more tests?

—Crw5074, via rockandice.com

On that particular day, diagnosis and Management class was always quite fun. Everyone spent the class loitering around in their undies examining man-tackle
for anomalies such as hydroceles (swollen scrotum), varicoceles (dodgy veins), spermatoceles (a school of wayward swimmers) and tumors (badness).

Cameron, a relaxed and confident fella who generally wore silk boxers, was having a little pinch-n-roll time, as young men often do (old men stroke their
beards). He says to me, kind of rhetorically, “Aren’t some lumps just normal?”

Word spread the next day that, after a more thorough examination at home by his girlfriend (same class) and a trip to the local clinic, he did in fact
have a spermatocele and not a testicular tumor.

And the consequence of that diagnosis? Nothing. Spermatoceles are typically incidental and require no treatment.

A hydrocele, on the other hand, can be associated with trauma to the groin, like the time you fell with your nuts under your leg loop.

Your injury smacks of damage to your inguinal region (maybe a hernia) or to your scrotum that is not resolving. This is not really my area, so get an ultrasound
and a urologist’s opinion. More tests!

It sounds like you may have also injured your groin, or more specifically the insertion point of your adductor muscles, a portion of which are right at
the base of your massive shlong.

Groin strains really need time to heal before you can load them, and 11 weeks is well sufficient. I would try some harder routes and see how it goes. Climbing,
as opposed to running, may not aggravate the hydrocele.


This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 200 (March 2012).