What is Orchitis?

Orchitis is an inflammation of the testicles, caused by either bacteria or a virus. Both testicles may be affected by orchitis at the same time. However, the symptoms usually appear in just one testicle. This kind of testicular swelling is often associated with the mumps virus.

Symptoms and signs of Orchitis

Pain in the testicles and groin is the primary symptom of orchitis. You may also have:

Causes of Orchitis

A virus or bacteria can cause orchitis. The most common cause of viral orchitis is the mumps. Mumps is a viral childhood disease. Most men who get the mumps as teens also develop orchitis. Viral orchitis related to the mumps develops anywhere from four to 10 days after the salivary glands swell. Salivary gland swelling is a symptom of the mumps.

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Bacterial infection can also lead to orchitis in males. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and urinary tract infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and epididymitis can cause orchitis, too. Epididymitis is an inflammation of the tube (epididymis), that stores sperm and connects the testicles to the vas deferens.

Risk factors for Orchitis

People who engage in high-risk sexual behavior may be more likely to develop orchitis. These behavior includes:

  • having sexual intercourse without condoms
  • having a history of STIs
  • having a partner who has an STI

Congenital urinary tract abnormalities can also increase your risk of orchitis. This means you’re born with structural problems involving your bladder or urethra.

Diagnosing Orchitis

Your doctor may need to examine your prostate to check if it is inflamed. This involves your doctor inserting a finger into your rectum to physically examine the prostate. Your urine sample may be taken for test and swab any discharge for lab analysis. This can determine if you have STIs or other infections. Ultrasound imaging can be performed to rule out testicular torsion.

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Testicular torsion causes severe pain in the testicles and groin area, and the symptoms are often mixed up with those of orchitis. Testicular torsion is the twisting of the spermatic cord (a network of nerves and blood vessels that runs into each testicle). It can threaten your fertility if it interrupts blood flow to your testicles.

Treatment options

Orchitis has no cure, though the condition will resolve on its own. Meanwhile, you can use home remedies to manage your symptoms.  This include applying ice packs, taking pain relievers, and elevating the testicles when possible can make you more comfortable.

Bacterial orchitis is treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and cold packs. Total recovery can take several weeks.

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Ensure you abstain from sexual intercourse and heavy lifting while you treat orchitis. If you’re infected with an STI, your partner will need to be treated too.

Long-term outlook

Most men suffering from orchitis recover fully with no lasting effects. Orchitis rarely causes infertility. Other complications are also rare but can include:

  • shrinking of the affected testicle
  • chronic inflammation of the epididymis
  • the death of testicular tissue
  • an abscess or blister within the scrotum

Preventing Orchitis

In some cases, orchitis cannot be prevented. This is especially true if you suffer from congenital urinary tract problems. You can protect yourself against certain types of viral orchitis by:

  • Vaccinating yourself and your children against mumps to reduce your risk of contracting orchitis.
  • Practicing safe sex can help prevent bacterial orchitis.
  • Use a condom and ask your partner about their sexual history.

 

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