Epididymitis is an
inflammation of the epididymis.
The epididymis is a tube located at the back of the testicles that stores and
carries sperm. When this tube becomes swollen, it can cause pain and swelling in
Epididymitis can affect men of all
ages, but it’s most common in men between ages 19 and 35. It’s usually caused
by a bacterial infection or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The
condition usually improves with antibiotics.
Are the Symptoms of Epididymitis?
Epididymitis may begin with only a few
mild symptoms. When it’s left untreated, however, the symptoms tend to get
People with epididymitis may
- a low-grade fever
- pain in the pelvic area
- pressure in the testicles
- pain and tenderness in the testicles
- redness and warmth in the scrotum
- enlarged lymph nodes in the groin
- pain during sexual intercourse and ejaculation
- pain during urination or bowel movements
- urgent and frequent urination
- abnormal discharge
- blood in the semen
Is at Risk for Epididymitis?
The most common cause of epididymitis
is an STI, specifically gonorrhea
and chlamydia. However,
epididymitis can also be caused by a non-sexually transmitted infection, such
as a urinary tract infection or prostate infection.
You may be more at risk for
epididymitis if you:
- are uncircumcised
- have unprotected sex
- have structural problems within the urinary
- have tuberculosis
- have an enlarged prostate causing blockage in
- recently had urinary tract surgery
- recently experienced a groin injury
- use a urinary catheter
- use a heart medication called amiodarone
Is Epididymitis Diagnosed?
Your doctor will first complete a
physical examination. They’ll look for swelling of the testicles, swelling of
the lymph nodes in the groin area, and abnormal discharge from the penis. If
there’s discharge, your doctor will use a cotton swab to collect a sample and
test for STIs.
Your doctor may also perform the
following tests and procedures:
- Your doctor will conduct a rectal examination if they suspect that an enlarged
prostate caused your condition.
- Your doctor may also order certain blood tests,
such as a complete
blood count, to determine whether there’s an infection in your
- Your doctor may ask for a urine sample as
well. Results of a urinalysis can indicate if you have a urinary tract infection or an STI.
- Imaging tests may be done to rule out other
conditions. These tests produce detailed images of the body, allowing your
doctor to see structures in the body very clearly. Your doctor might order a testicular
ultrasound to obtain images of the testicles and the surrounding
tissues in the scrotum.
Is Epididymitis Treated?
Treatment for epididymitis involves
treating the underlying infection and easing symptoms.
Common treatments include:
- pain medication
- anti-inflammatory medication
- bed rest
- elevating the scrotum
- applying cold packs to the scrotum
- wearing an athletic cup for support
- avoiding lifting heavy objects
- abstaining from sexual intercourse
These methods are usually successful.
However, more invasive treatment may be needed in some cases.
If an abscess has formed on the testicles, your doctor can drain the pus
using a needle.
Surgery is another option if no other
treatments have been successful. This involves removing all or part of the
epididymis. Surgical treatment may also be necessary to correct any physical
defects that may be causing epididymitis.
Is the Outlook for Someone with Epididymitis?
Most cases of epididymitis are
successfully treated using antibiotics. There are usually no long-term sexual
or productive problems. However, the infection can return in the future. It’s
also possible for complications to occur, but this is rare.
Potential complications include:
- long-term epididymitis
- shrinkage of the testicles
- a fistula, or an abnormal passageway, in the
- the death of testicular tissue
It’s important to seek treatment right
away to prevent complications. Once treatment is received, it’s important that
you take your entire course of antibiotics to treat the infection. You should
also see your doctor after you’ve finished the medication to make sure that the
infection has cleared. This will help ensure that you make a complete recovery.