Orchitis is an inflammation of both or only one of the testicles. Viral or bacterial infections can cause orchitis, or in some cases, the cause is unknown. Orchitis is most often caused due to a bacterial infection, such as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In some of the cases, the mumps virus may result in orchitis.
Bacterial orchitis may be associated with epididymitis, which is an inflammation of the coiled tube or epididymis at the back of the testicle which carries and stores sperm. In that case, it's known as epididymo-orchitis.
Orchitis and infertility:
Orchitis causes pain in the testicles and can even affect the fertility of a man. Taking prescribed medication can treat the causes of bacterial orchitis and can ease some of the symptoms and signs of viral orchitis. But the healing process takes a lot of time, it can take several weeks for scrotal tenderness to disappear completely.
Causes of swollen testicles:
Both viruses and bacteria have the capability to cause mumps or inflammation in the testicles.
- The bacteria which commonly causes the inflammation or mumps, include Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus. A prostate infection might occur in conjunction with orchitis. Epididymitis or inflammation of the tube on the back of one or both the testicles can lead to orchitis, as well.
- The bacteria that cause sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, can even cause orchitis in sexually active men, of ages 19-35 years. You may be at risk for developing symptoms of orchitis if you have many sexual partners, are involved in high-risk sexual activities like unprotected sex, if your sexual partner has had an STD, or if you have any history of STDs.
- The virus that causes mumps or inflammation can also cause orchitis. It is very common in young boys, rare in boys who are younger than 10 years, orchitis begins four to six days after the mumps begins. A third of boys with mumps would develop symptoms for orchitis and end up with a condition called testicular atrophy or shrinking of the testicles. That’s why it is important for all children, especially the boys, to have shots to protect them from catching the childhood disease of mumps.
- You might be at risk for non-sexually transmitted orchitis if you haven’t had proper vaccination against the disease of swollen testicles or mumps, if you get urinary tract infections, if you are older than 45 years, or if you frequently have a catheter placed into your bladder.
Symptoms of swollen testicles:
With inflammation in the testicles, you may have a rapid onset of pain in one or both the testicles that may spread to the groin.
- One or may be both of your testicles might appear swollen, tender and red or purple.
- You may have a "heavy feeling" in the swollen testicle.
- You may see blood in your semen.
- Other symptoms include having high fever, vomiting, nausea, pain while urination, or pain from straining with a bowel movement, groin pain, or pain while intercourse and simply feeling ill.
In epididymo-orchitis, the symptoms are very much similar and may begin rapidly or progress more gradually.
- Orchitis causes pain and swelling in one or both the testicles for one to several days.
- Later, the infection spreads and it involves the whole testicle.
- Possible burning sensation or pain before or after urination and penile discharge are also seen.
Medical Treatment of Swollen Testicles:
The majority of cases of epididymo-orchitis and Orchitis, require antibiotics. Antibiotic therapy is required to cure the infection and prevent it from spreading.
- Most individuals can be treated at home with antibiotics within a minimum of 10 days. Longer courses of the medicine become necessary if the prostate is involved.
- If you have nausea, high fever, experience vomiting, or are very ill, you may require admission to a hospital or healthcare facility for IV antibiotics.
- Mumps orchitis would clear up in about one to three weeks. Just continue treating your symptoms with home care techniques.
- Young and sexually active men need to make sure that all of their sexual partners are treated. You must use condoms or do not have any sexual interactions until all partners have completed their full course of antibiotics and are free of all the symptoms.
Also Read: Lifestyle And Infertility – What Is The Link?
Home Remedies for Orchitis:
Home care along with the prescribed medical treatment could help you improve the symptoms of orchitis:
- Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, for example, Advil or Motrin, naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help with reducing pain.
- Elevating your scrotum with the help of snug-fitting briefs or wearing an athletic supporter or underwear could increase comfort.
- Apply ice packs- The ice should not be applied directly to the skin as this may cause burns from freezing. Rather, the ice should be wrapped firmly in a thin cloth, neither too thick, nor too thin, and then applied to the scrotum. The ice pack can be applied for about 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day for the first day or two. This would help keep down the swelling and pain.
Orchitis and Sexually Transmitted Diseases:
Choose not to involve in sexual intercourse in high-risk situations where you mighy be exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, because it would worsen your condition and it may even lead to infertility. Use of condoms reduces the incidence of the sexual transmission of diseases. Men older than 50 years of age must have their prostates examined during their yearly physical exams.
The risk factors:
Risk factors for the transmission of non-sexual Orchitis include:
- No immunization against the mumps.
- Experiencing a recurring urinary tract infection.
- Undergoing a surgery that involves the genitals or the urinary tract.
- Being born with an issue or abnormality in the urinary tract.
Sexual activities or behaviours that can lead to sexually transmitted infections, put you at a higher risk of sexually transmitted orchitis. Such activities or behaviours include:
- Having multiple sexual partners.
- Having sex with a partner who is diagnosed with STI.
- Having sex without a condom.
- Having a personal history of an STI.
Complications of swollen testicles may include:
- Testicular atrophy, where Orchitis can eventually cause the affected testicle to shrink or decrease in size.
- Scrotal abscess, where the infected tissue fills with pus.
- Infertility. Occasionally, orchitis can even cause infertility or inadequate production of testosterone (hypogonadism). The individual would be at a lower of having this if the Orchitis is only in one testicle.
Tests and exams:
Your health care provider or your doctor may perform a series of exams and diagnostic tests.
- An ultrasound of the inflamed testicle or both the testicles can identify the difference between testicular torsion and Orchitis. Testicular torsion is another painful and potentially dangerous condition.
- With a rectal examination, your doctor checks your prostate for any infection. This test is crucial because the antibiotic treatment would be used for a longer span of time if the infection involves the prostate.
- A urine sample may be taken to check for any sexually transmitted diseases and other bacteria or virus that might be responsible for causing the infection.
- Blood is drawn to test for syphilis or HIV if a sexually transmitted disease is suspected by the doctor.
Tags: Swollen Testicle And Lump, Orchitis Vs Epididymitis, Mumps Orchitis Infertility Treatment, Orchitis Antibiotics
Henry holds a diploma in Linguistics and is fluent in both, written and verbal Spanish. He is an avid reader and loves to stay updated about the healthcare industry. If you are reading about any major breakthrough in the medical field, know that Henry is the one who brought it to you.