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What is epididymitis? — Epididymitis is the term doctors use when the epididymis gets inflamed. The epididymis is a small structure that sits on top of the testicle (figure 1). The epididymis stores sperm and moves it along the male reproductive tract.
Different infections and conditions can cause epididymitis. In teens and men who are having sex, epididymitis is commonly caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea. These are 2 different infections that people can catch during sex.
Epididymitis can also be caused by other conditions or infections that people don't catch during sex. These things are more likely to cause epididymitis in older men.
What are the symptoms of epididymitis? — Epididymitis causes pain in the testicles or scrotum. The scrotum is the skin sac around the testicles.
Besides pain, epididymitis can also cause:
Swelling of the scrotum or testicles
Redness of the scrotum
Should I see my doctor or nurse? — Yes. See your doctor or nurse if you have pain or swelling in your testicles or scrotum.
If your pain is severe, and your doctor or nurse can't see you right away, you should go to the emergency room.
Is there a test for epididymitis? — Yes. Your doctor or nurse will ask about your symptoms and do an exam. He or she will also probably do:
Urine tests
An ultrasound of your scrotum – An ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the inside of the body.
Lab tests – If you have discharge from your urethra (the opening in your penis where urine leaves your body), your doctor or nurse will take a sample of the discharge. He or she will send the sample to a lab for tests.
Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better? — Yes. To help with the pain and swelling, you can:
Put a cold gel pack, bag of ice, or bag of frozen vegetables on the area every few hours, for 15 minutes each time.
Wear a jock strap to support your scrotum.
Take an over-the-counter medicine to treat your pain. Over-the-counter medicines include acetaminophen (sample brand name: Tylenol), ibuprofen (sample brand names: Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (sample brand name: Aleve).
What other treatment might I need? — Other treatment depends on what's causing your epididymitis.
If a bacterial infection is causing your epididymitis, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic medicines. Most men can take antibiotic pills at home, but men with a severe infection might need treatment in the hospital.
If you are treated for chlamydia or gonorrhea, you should tell the person you last had sex with, and anyone you have had sex with in the past 2 to 3 months. They might also be infected (even if they have no symptoms) and need treatment.
Can epididymitis be prevented? — You can help prevent epididymitis that is caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea by:
Using a latex condom every time you have sex
Avoiding sex when you or your partner has genital itching, discharge, or other symptoms that could be caused by an infection
Not having sex
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 17184 Version 14.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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