According to STDResource.com, epididymitis is an inflammation of the epididymis. The epididymis is a cord-like structure found behind the testicle. Inside it, sperm matures and is stored.
All men can get epididymitis, but it’s most common in those aged 19 to 35.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report, epididymitis is usually caused by the spread of a bacterial infection from the urethra or the bladder.
The Mayo Clinic says there are a number of conditions that cause epididymitis. These include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly gonorrhea and chlamydia. Other instances arise when a urinary tract or prostate infection, or bacteria spread from the infected site to the epididymis. It is rare, but epididymitis can be caused by a fungal infection.
NIH says another cause is amiodarone, a medication which prevents abnormal heart rhythms. In some cases, tuberculosis has been known to cause epididymitis. And in others, it’s urine in the epididymis.
The risks that increase the chance for epididymitis include being uncircumcised; a recent medical procedure, and a history of problems in the urinary tract; past prostate or urinary tract infections; regular use of a urethral catheter, and an enlarged prostate.
STDResource.com reports symptoms of epididymitis can include one-sided swelling of the scrotum and/or tenderness (this occasionally can happen on both sides); pain in the scrotum; redness and swelling of the skin lying over the epididymis; discharge from the urethra and burning with urination.
NIH says other symptoms include blood in the semen, discomfort in the lower abdomen or pelvis, fever, a lump in the testicle, pain during ejaculation, and testicle pain that gets worse during a bowel movement.
Antibiotics are usually successful in treating epididymitis. Men also find no problem with sexually activity or reproductive ability. However, in some cases, the Mayo Clinic says epididymitis may not clear up completely, or may recur. This is known as chronic epididymitis.
According to STDResource.com, potential complications of epididymitis include infertility, the formation of an abscess in the scrotum (that is when the infected tissue fills with pus), and inflammation of the testicle. Other complications include death of testicular tissue due to lack of blood and shrinkage of the affected testicle.
As is the case with all STDs, abstinence is the best way to prevent epididymitis. The Mayo Clinic advises safer sexual practices, such as monogamous sex and condom use, also help protect against STDs that can cause epididymitis.
Reviewed July 26, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle