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Health Advice for Boys

If you don't avoid athletic cups and supporters because they're too much of a hassle, then you probably keep
them at the bottom of the closet because you think wearing one makes you a sissy. In fact, only one out of ten
adult men engaging in recreational contact sports bothers to don one of the plastic guardians before running onto
the playing field. New research suggests that that leaves the other 90 percent of us vulnerable to an injury that
can lead to permanent infertility.

Most of us would probably agree that's a bad thing. Luckily, there are concrete steps you can take to prevent an
injury and to stop long-term damage from occurring if you do get into trouble. Here's our best advice on
protecting your family jewels.

1.Get support. Whenever you stray onto a field of play that involves contact, arm yourself with a high
quality athletic cup and supporter. This applies if there's any chance of a direct hit--for anything from
baseball to club soccer.

2.Choose your support wisely. The efficacy of supporters in preventing injuries varies, according to Marc
Goldstein, M.D., director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery at the New
York Hospital--Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "I actually recommend the hard plastic cups
that ice-hockey goalies are required to wear--they're the most protective of all," Goldstein advises.

3.Take it smooth. Bicycle riding emerged as the second most common source of injury in the recent study.
"Most men who got injured on a bike, did so while going down steps," says Wolfram E. Nolten, M.D.,
principal investigator and associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. If
you encounter any kind of extremely bumpy surface while riding a bicycle, either swallow your pride and
walk your bike past it or stand up on the pedals to keep the vibrations from affecting your groin.

4.Rest. After any injury that results in testicular pain, this is the first thing your body needs. Lie down and
apply an ice pack to the affected area, suggests Dr. Nolten. You may also want to take an
anti-inflammatory medication like Tylenol or ibuprofen.

5.Know the signs. We've all had the dizzying experience of a sudden hit that's left us groaning out
loud--that's not necessarily a medical emergency, just a fact of life. But Dr. Goldstein suggests reporting to
your nearest emergency room if the testicle becomes swollen, black and blue or if severe pain persists for
more than several minutes.

6.Sound it out. If you do go to the emergency room, insist on being seen by the urologist on-call and
request a scrotal ultrasound. "It's the most accurate way to diagnose injuries to the testicle," says Dr.

7.Make a change. Advocate for a mandatory policy of wearing athletic cups and supporters for boy's
athletic teams. "I'm an assistant Boy Scout master and when we go camping, the boys have to show their
rain gear or they don't go," says Dr. Nolten. "Same thing should be put into place for athletic cups and
supporters and sports: If the boys won't wear them, they should be sent home."


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