I go through the statistics on what’s sending Americans to emergency rooms with groin injuries.
It was eerie serendipity. I was recently rewatching Idiocracy for the first time in about a year and the very next day, I read about a new study on the ways Americans injure their genitalia. Ow, My Balls! had infiltrated modern science.
I would’ve written about the study right away, only I couldn’t get my hands on that meaty genital data without a subscription to a urology medical journal. (My subscription just expired.) So, instead, I started bothering the study’s authors and media contacts until they finally acquiesced and sent me the full write-up. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Or in this case, I guess, lube.
So here’s something you won’t find anywhere but the Journal of Urology and 11 Points — a list of the 11 most common ways Americans injure their genitalia. At least this way, if we are moving to the society featured in Idiocracy, you’ll be aware when the Ow, My Balls! guy is getting injured by an outlier.
1 | Clothing – 32.4% of all penis injuries and 8.7% of injuries overall
Two-thirds of these are There’s Something About Mary-style zipper injuries. It’s amazing that button flies never truly caught on. It seems shockingly barbaric that we still keep our genitalia within centimeters of a bunch of metal teeth just desperate to attack. And you’ve never heard of someone accidentally hurting themselves by buttoning his penis, right?
Another interesting stat in the “clothing” category: 3% of all injuries to the genitals were from footwear. I’m not sure if that includes kicks to the groin or not, but otherwise, how do 44 people every year go to the emergency room with footwear-related genital injuries?
2 | Toilet, shower and bathtub – 5.18% of injuries overall
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house for the genitalia. The researchers found that the primary toilet injuries happened from “a toilet seat crushing a man’s penis or scrotum.” I have no idea how the mechanics of that work — how do you ever have your penis/scrotum at an angle where they’re crushable? — but it’s enough to send more than 200 men to the hospital every year.
As for the bathtub and shower injuries, most are from hot water burns… but some are from people accidentally ramming into the faucet or handles.
3 | Razors, scissors, and hair clippers – 6.9% of injuries overall
Based on what I know from the adult films of the 1970s, I bet this is the fastest-growing category over the past three decades.
4 | Bathing products – 16.1% of all injuries to female genitalia and 4.8% of injuries overall
This mostly comes from irritation from the chemicals in soaps and shampoos. Although that can also happen from scrubbing too hard with a washcloth or loofah. Or accidentally overdosing on Nair.
5 | Furniture – 10.3% to testicles, 11.6% to female genitalia, and 9% overall
The majority of furniture injuries happen when someone either straddles a piece of furniture or tries to jump or step over a chair. Seriously, don’t try to jump over a chair. Extract yourself from any competitive games of leapchair. About 500 people a year go to the hospital because they hurt their groins on the backs of chairs. That’s 3.15% of genital injuries.
6 | Sporting balls to the groin – 5.34% of injuries overall
I was NOT going to do this list without talking about how Barney’s movie had heart but Football In the Groin had a football in the groin. Footballs in the groin account for 1.2% of all genital injuries every year. Other less iconic balls like basketballs, soccer balls, baseballs and softballs account for the rest. And probably tetherballs too.
7 | Bicycles – 7.67% of injuries overall
Bicycles account for the most injuries of any specific item. So see — when you ride a bike for the first time in a while and feel like your fertility just took a painful nosedive, you’re not alone. (A lot of these injuries happen on men’s bikes because of that top bar. Women’s bikes still don’t have that. Maybe you should switch to a woman’s bike. Or an old-timey bike with one giant wheel and one tiny wheel. It’s virtually impossible to crotch yourself on one of those.)
8 | Sex toys – 4.3% of injuries to penis and 8.6% to female genitalia
Of these injuries, 39% are from phallic devices and 35% are from penile rings. The researchers didn’t go into detail on what toys cause the other quarter of these injuries, but you can bet people get stuck in inflatable dolls and chastity belts more than they’d like to admit.
9 | Flooring – 8.8% of all injuries to senior genitals
In younger age groups, the majority of genital injuries are caused by sporting equipment, clothing, and shaving. The only age group whose genitalia are under attack by the floor are people over 66. (Primarily through falling down and having the groin hit a hardwood or tile floor.) But only about one in 13 genital injuries happens to people in that age group, so, basically, don’t worry about the battle between the floor and the groin. It’s an obscure one. Like the Battle of Staten Island in the Revolutionary War. Or the Oakland-Kansas City rap battle.
10 | Climbing equipment – 4.9% of injuries overall
Climbing equipment means things like ladders, stools, and even stairs — not mountain climbing gear. Which is surprising, because with the way that rock and mountain climbing gear straps between your legs, you’d think it would outperform ladders and stairs. (It does not. It doesn’t even get its own specific breakdown; it’s just part of the “other sporting items” dump.)
11 | Sports vehicles – 3.39% of injuries overall
“Vehicles” was an odd-ish choice by the authors, since this isn’t just about ATVs, it also includes horses. And skis and snowboards. Which hits close to home for me. Personal story time…
The worst groin pain I’ve ever experienced happened my senior year of college. I went on a ski trip with a bunch of friends. I’d tried skiing a little and didn’t love it, so I decided to try out snowboarding. I found the lessons boring, so I decided to just kinda figure it out on my own. No one taught me the snowboarding equivalent of pizzaing to go slow and French frying to go fast. And that was a mistake. Smash cut to me wantonly flying down the mountain until I hit an almost imperceivable mound of snow. Can’t even call it a mogul. Anyway, I flew up in the air and landed, pelvis first, on a small pile of ice. At which point I threw up on the side of the mountain. I crouched there for several minutes more, getting the sick feeling out of my stomach. Then I detached my snowboard, walked down the mountain, returned my snowboard to the rental place, and never participated in winter sports again. That was 12 years ago.
Sports “vehicles.” They really hurt.