What is epididymitis?
The epididymis is a long, tightly coiled tube that lies above and behind each testicle. It collects and stores maturing sperm made by the testicles prior to ejaculation. Inflammation and infection of the epididymis is called epididymitis.
What causes it?
The causes of epididymitis vary depending on your age and behavior. In children it is most commonly associated with urinary tract infections. In young, sexually active males, it is often linked to sexually transmitted infection. And in older males, it is often caused by enlargement of the prostate gland. Epididymitis may be caused by a bacterial infection from having a urinary catheter or after having a urological procedure. And an injury to the groin may cause epididymitis.
What are the symptoms?
Pain, tenderness, and swelling in the scrotum (epididymides or testicles) that gradually get worse are the most common symptoms of epididymitis. Other symptoms may include fever and chills, frequent or painful urination, or a discharge from the penis.
How is it diagnosed?
Epididymitis is diagnosed using a physical exam and a medical history. A culture of discharge from the penis is done to check for a bacterial infection, such as a sexually transmitted infection. And a urinalysis and urine culture are done to check for a urinary tract infection. You may also have a blood test or other tests.
An ultrasound may be done to look for the cause of swelling. Causes may include problems like torsion of the testicle, an emergency condition that causes loss of blood flow to the testicles and requires urgent surgical treatment.
How is epididymitis treated?
If it is caused by an infection, epididymitis may be treated with antibiotics. Supportive measures, such as bed rest and anti-inflammatory medicines (such as ibuprofen or ketoprofen), may help relieve discomfort caused by epididymitis. You may also want to elevate your scrotum by rolling up a hand towel and placing it under your scrotum.
If epididymitis was caused by a sexually transmitted infection, your sex partner should also be evaluated and treated for a possible infection.
Current as of: October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Christopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology