The epididymis is a looped tube that sits on the back of the testicle. The tube stores sperm and makes a path for sperm to pass out of the body. Epididymitis is an inflammation of the epididymis. It may be:
- Acute—short lasting with treatment, often caused by infection
- Chronic—lasts longer than 6 weeks or keeps coming back (less common); cause is not always clear
Epididymitis is most often caused by an infection but can also be caused by an injury.
- The infections may start in nearby areas such as a urinary tract infections or sexually transmitted infections.
- Injuries may be as a result of trauma or medical treatment such as chemotherapy or local surgery.
Sometimes the cause is not clear,
Only men can develop this condition but it can affect males of any age.
Infections that may lead to epididymitis include:
- Sexually transmitted infection (STIs), such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
- Urinary tract infection
- Infection of the urethra (urethritis)
- Infection of the prostate (prostatitis)
- Viral infections, such as mumps
Other problems that may increase the risk of epididymitis include:
Symptoms will depend on the cause but can include:
- Pain in the testicles
- Sudden redness or swelling of the scrotum
- Hardness, a lump, and/or soreness in the affected testicle
- Tenderness in the unaffected testicle
- Pain and/or burning during urination
- Discharge from the penis
- Pain during intercourse or ejaculation
- Lower abdominal discomfort
- Pain may spread to the groin
- Fever, chills
Symptoms of Chronic epididymitis may start more gradually.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Epididymitis may be suspected based on the physical exam. To find a cause or look for other health issues the doctor may also test:
- Urinalysis—look for abnormal items in the urine
- Urine culture—look for signs of an infection
- Discharge from penis—to look for signs of infection and specific cause
- Blood—to look for abnormalities
Images may be also taken of your scrotum. This can help confirm the diagnosis and look for any other abnormalities. This can be done with ultrasound.
Treatment is important to prevent permanent damage. The specific treatment will depend on the cause. Options include:
- Rest and support
- Bed rest may be needed until the swelling has decreased.
- Use of athletic supporter for several weeks to elevate and support the scrotum.
- Medication such as:
- Antibiotics—to treat a bacterial infections. Partner(s) may also need treatment.
- Oral anti-inflammatory medication—to help reduce swelling.
- Surgery—may be needed for severe chronic epididymitis
The following steps can help decrease your risk:
- Practice safe sex. Protect yourself from STDs by using condoms.
- Empty your bladder as soon as you feel the need. This may help decrease the risk of urinary tract infections.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 09/2016 -
- Update Date: 03/13/2017 -