Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
What is it?
Epididymo-orchitis is the inflammation of the epididymis (the tube carrying the sperm from the testicles) and testicles themselves. It’s caused by the spread of bacterial infection. The most common infections in young men are chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
If left untreated, epididymo-orchitis can lead to:
- chronic epididymo-orchitis (when persistent inflammation of the testicles leads to recurring testicular pain)
- testicular abscesses (pus collection within the testicles)
- testicular atrophy (shrinking of the testicles).
How do I catch it?
The infections that commonly cause epididymo-orchitis, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, are passed from one person to another during sex. They can be spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex.
Epididymo-orchitis can also be caused by a urine infection.
The most common symptoms are painful swelling of the scrotum (the sack of skin which holds the testicles) and pain in the testicles themselves. Some men may also experience pain when they pass urine or notice a discharge (liquid) from the urethra (the tube which runs through the penis), and occasionally a low-grade fever.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should speak to their GP or attend an Umbrella clinic as soon as possible.
Epididymo–orchitis is normally diagnosed by a physical examination of the testicles.
Patients being examined for epididymo–orchitis should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Epididymo-orchitis is treated with oral antibiotics for an average of two weeks. Patients should be followed up after two weeks to check that the symptoms have improved.
If you are treated for epidydymo-orchitis, it is essential that your partner is also treated before you have sex again.
Once epididymo-orchitis has been treated it will not re-occur unless you have unprotected sex with someone with an untreated related infection.
All Umbrella clinics provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections. To find clinics, and to see which services they offer, please see the service locator.
Detailed information on STIs is available on the NHS website.
See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on sexually transmitted infections.
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) website also features a range of downloadable leaflets on STIs.