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Epididymitis Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Epididymitis is the inflammation of the epididymis – a tube which is located at the back of testicle that carries and stores sperm. Epididymitis can affect males at any age and is usually caused by a bacterial infection.

What is Epididymitis?

Epididymitis is a clinical syndrome consisting of inflammation, pain and swelling of the epididymis, a highly convoluted duct behind the testis that carries sperm. It can  affect men of any age but mostly it affects the age group between 14 and 35 years . A sexually transmitted infection, mainly gonorrhoea and chlamydia, is the most significant cause of epididymitis. A non-sexually transmitted infection, such as urinary tract infection (UTI) or prostate infection can also lead to epididymitis. However, epididymitis is easily treated with the help of certain antibiotics. Chronic epididymitis extends longer than the usual six weeks with discomfort or pain in the scrotum and testicle or epididymis.

About 600,000 cases of epididymitis are detected in the United States each year.

Symptoms

The following symptoms indicate a condition of acute epididymitis:

  • Swollen, red or warm scrotum
  • Painful testicle. This is usually on one side, such as a painful left testicle, and usually occurs gradually
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Painful urination or bowel movements or a frequent or urgent or need to urinate
  • Discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area
  • Semen showing traces of blood
  • Mild recurring fever
  • Cold or shivering

Enlargement of lymph nodes in the groin region

In some rare cases, you might need surgery to drain any abscesses that have formed.

What causes epididymitis ?

  • The most common cause is bacterial infection by the bacteria Mycoplasma, Chlamydia or E.coli. Sexally transmitted diseases are the carriers of epididymitis. 
  • Mumps virus and tuberculosis (TB) 
  • Backward flow of urine
  • Blockage in the Urethra 
  • Infected and enlarged prostate gland
  • Use of catheter (tube that passes the urine)
  • Traumatic groin injury

What are the risk factors of epididymitis?

    • Unprotected sex
    • Prostate infection
    • Urinary tract infection
    • History of medical procedures that affect the urinary tract, such as insertion of a urinary catheter
    • Abnormality in urinary tract
    • Tuberculosis 

What are the complications from epididymitis?

  • If left untreated, abscess (pus-filled sac) might develop in the scrotum
  • Opening of scrotum skin due to swelling and infection
  • Infertility in extreme cases 

Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications.

How is epididymitis treated?

  • By opting for an antibiotic course for one to two weeks. Antibiotics like doxycycline, ciprofloxacin can be given
  • Taking proper rest
  • Keeping the scrotum mostly in an elevated position
  • Applying ice bags to reduce swelling and pain in the affected region
  • Increasing fluid intake in the body
  • Using anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain

Precautions

Practising safe sex methods is one of the most essential steps in preventing epididymitis. Use condoms every time you have sex, even if it is with a partner you have known for a long time. If you experience regular urinary tract infections or the other risk factors, then talk to your doctor about how to prevent the infections.

FAQs of Epididymitis:

  1. Can you get epididymitis without having an STD?

Yes, a non-sexually transmitted infection can also cause epididymitis. For instance, urinary tract infection (UTI) or prostate infection. However, epididymitis is easily treated and generally heals with the help of antibiotics.

  1. What can happen if epididymitis is left untreated?

Apart from causing you pain and discomfort, the condition could spread to the testicles and cause more harm like the shrinkage of the testes, death of testicular tissue, infertility, and the formation of sores or cysts in the epididymis.

  1. What is the most common cause of testicular pain?

Epididymitis, torsion, varicocele, physical trauma, and testicular tumours etc, are the most common reasons behind testicular pain.

  1. How long can epididymitis last?

Acute epididymitis lasts less than six weeks while chronic epididymitis lasts for longer than six weeks. You must seek medical help immediately, if you notice any symptoms.

  1. Can epididymitis be cured completely?

If the condition and its underlying cause are treated promptly, then the condition can be cured completely.

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