Orchitis (or-KIE-tis) is an inflammation of one or both testicles. Bacterial or viral infections can cause orchitis, or the cause can be unknown. Orchitis is most often the result of a bacterial infection, such as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In some cases, the mumps virus can cause orchitis.
Bacterial orchitis might be associated with epididymitis — an inflammation of the coiled tube (epididymis) at the back of the testicle that stores and carries sperm. In that case, it's called epididymo-orchitis.
Orchitis causes pain and can affect fertility. Medication can treat the causes of bacterial orchitis and can ease some signs and symptoms of viral orchitis. But it can take several weeks for scrotal tenderness to disappear.
Orchitis signs and symptoms usually develop suddenly and can include:
The terms "testicle pain" and "groin pain" are sometimes used interchangeably. But groin pain occurs in the fold of skin between the thigh and abdomen — not in the testicle. The causes of groin pain are different from the causes of testicle pain.
If you have pain or swelling in your scrotum, especially if the pain occurs suddenly, see your doctor right away.
A number of conditions can cause testicle pain, and some require immediate treatment. One such condition involves twisting of the spermatic cord (testicular torsion), which might cause pain similar to that caused by orchitis. Your doctor can perform tests to determine which condition is causing your pain.
Orchitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Sometimes a cause of orchitis can't be determined.
Most often, bacterial orchitis is associated with or the result of epididymitis. Epididymitis usually is caused by an infection of the urethra or bladder that spreads to the epididymis.
Often, the cause of the infection is an STI. Other causes of infection can be related to having been born with abnormalities in your urinary tract or having had a catheter or medical instruments inserted into your penis.
The mumps virus usually causes viral orchitis. Nearly one-third of males who contract the mumps after puberty develop orchitis, usually four to seven days after onset of the mumps.
Risk factors for nonsexually transmitted orchitis include:
Sexual behaviors that can lead to STIs put you at risk of sexually transmitted orchitis. Those behaviors include having:
Complications of orchitis may include:
To prevent orchitis:
Your doctor is likely to start with your medical history and a physical exam to check for enlarged lymph nodes in your groin and an enlarged testicle on the affected side. Your doctor might also do a rectal examination to check for prostate enlargement or tenderness.
Your doctor might recommend:
Treatment depends on the cause of orchitis.
Antibiotics are needed to treat bacterial orchitis and epididymo-orchitis. If the cause of the bacterial infection is an STI, your sexual partner also needs treatment.
Take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor, even if your symptoms ease sooner, to ensure that the infection is gone.
It may take several weeks for the tenderness to disappear. Resting, supporting the scrotum with an athletic strap, applying ice packs and taking pain medication can help relieve discomfort.
Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Your doctor might recommend:
Most people with viral orchitis start to feel better in three to 10 days, although it can take several weeks for the scrotal tenderness to disappear.
To ease discomfort:
You might be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary issues (urologist). Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
Make a list of:
For orchitis, basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
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