Topic Overview

What is epididymitis?

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

What causes epididymitis?

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
men, it is often linked to
sexually transmitted infection. And in older men it is
often caused by enlargement of the
prostate gland.
Bacterial infections, possibly spread from the rectal
area or following a urological procedure, also may cause epididymitis. 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 epididymitis 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 to check for an elevated
white cell count and an
ultrasound or nuclear medicine test to make sure that
you do not have
torsion of the testicle, an emergency condition that
causes loss of blood flow to the testicles and requires urgent surgical
treatment. These tests are also used to make sure that you do not have a

How is it treated?

If your doctor thinks it may be caused by a bacteria, he or she will treat you with antibiotics. Supportive measures, such as bed rest
with elevation of the hips and anti-inflammatory medicines (such as ibuprofen
or ketoprofen), may help relieve discomfort caused by epididymitis.

If you have symptoms of epididymitis, reduce the risk of spreading a
possible infection to your partner by avoiding sexual intercourse until you can
be examined by your doctor. It is important for sex partners to be evaluated
and treated for a possible infection.

Other Places To Get Help


Urology Care Foundation (U.S.)


Other Works Consulted

  • Nguyen HT (2008). Bacterial infections of the genitourinary tract. In EA Tanagho, JW McAninch, eds., Smith's General Urology, 17th ed., pp. 193–218. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.


ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology

Current as ofDecember 3, 2017

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