Epididymitis is an inflammation of the coiled tube (epididymis) at the back of the testicle that stores and carries sperm. Pain and swelling are the most common signs and symptoms of epididymitis. Males of any age can get epididymitis, but it's most common in men between the ages of 20 and 39.
Epididymitis is most often caused by a bacterial infection or by a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. In some cases, the testicle also may become inflamed — a condition called epididymo-orchitis.
Epididymitis symptoms depend on the cause. They can include:
When to see a doctor
Testicular torsion, caused by a twisted spermatic cord, can cause pain similar to that caused by epididymitis and requires emergency treatment because it blocks blood flow to the testicle.
See a doctor if you have discharge from your penis or pain when you urinate.
Scrotum, testicle and epididymis
Epididymitis is an inflammation of the epididymis, a small, coiled tube at the back of the testicle. ...
Epididymitis has a number of causes, including:
Male reproductive system
The male reproductive system makes, stores and moves sperm. Testicles produce sperm. Fluid from the seminal vesicles and prostate gland combine with sperm to make semen. The penis ejaculates semen ...
Sexually transmitted epididymitis
Epididymitis may eventually cause:
If the condition spreads from your epididymis to your testicle, the resulting condition is known as epididymo-orchitis. Signs, symptoms and treatment options are basically the same as they are for epididymitis.
Preparing for your appointment
Get immediate medical treatment if you develop sudden, severe scrotal pain or swelling, especially within several hours of an injury to your scrotum. This may indicate testicular torsion, an emergency medical condition.
If you have other symptoms common to epididymitis, call your doctor. After your initial appointment, your doctor may refer you to a doctor who specializes in urinary tract and male sexual disorders (urologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
For epididymitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Tests and diagnosis
Your doctor will do a physical exam, which may reveal enlarged lymph nodes in your groin and an enlarged testicle on the affected side. Your doctor also may do a rectal examination to check for prostate enlargement or tenderness and order blood and urine tests to check for infection and other abnormalities.
Other tests your doctor might order include:
Treatments and drugs
Epididymitis caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or other infection is treated with antibiotic medications. Your sexual partner will also need treatment. Make sure your doctor is aware of any other medications you're taking or any allergies you have. This information, as well as determining what type of infection you have, will help your doctor select the best treatment.
Be sure to take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor, even though you may feel better in two to three days after you start treatment. If you're not feeling better in that time, contact your doctor. When you've finished your medication, it's a good idea to return to your doctor for a follow-up visit to be sure that the infection has cleared up.
In most cases, symptoms improve after a few days of antibiotics. If your symptoms don't improve as expected, your doctor may try another antibiotic. If symptoms still don't improve, your doctor may do further tests to determine whether your epididymitis is caused by something other than a bacterial infection or STD.
If a pocket of pus (abscess) has formed, it may need to be drained, and in some cases part or all of the epididymis needs to be removed surgically (epididymectomy). Surgery may also be considered if epididymitis is due to underlying physical defects, but many people continue to have scrotal pain following epididymectomy.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Having epididymitis usually means you're experiencing considerable pain and discomfort. To ease your symptoms, try these suggestions:
If your epididymitis was caused by an STD, your partner also will need treatment. If your partner doesn't get treatment, you may contract the STD again. Safer sexual practices, such as monogamous sex and condom use, help protect against STDs that can cause epididymitis.
If you have recurrent urninary tract infections or other risk factors for epididymitis, your doctor may discuss with you other ways to prevent epididymitis from recurring.
Last Updated: 2009-11-19
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