What are Epididymitis and Orchitis?

Pain in the scrotum or testicle (“teste”) might be from epididymitis, orchitis or both.

  • Epididymitis is swelling or pain in the back of the testicle in the coiled tube (epididymis) that stores and carries sperm.
  • Orchitis is swelling or pain in one or both testicles, usually from an infection or virus.

This article will help you manage these health issues with your urologist.

What Happens under Normal Conditions?

Male Reproductive Organs
Male Reproductive Organs

The male reproductive system makes, stores, and transports sperm. Sperm is created with special male hormones in the body. These are made in the two testes in the scrotum,(which is the pouch-like sac at the base of the penis). Sperm start growing in the testes and gain movement and maturity while travelling through the epididymis. The epididymis is a coiled tube behind each teste.

Each epididymis is linked to the ejaculatory duct by a tube called the vas deferens. This tube runs from the lower part of the scrotum into the inguinal canal. It then moves through the pelvis, behind the bladder. This is where the vas deferens joins with the seminal vesicle and forms the ejaculatory duct. When you ejaculate, fluid from the seminal vesicles and prostate mix with sperm to form semen. The semen travels through the urethra and comes out the end of the penis.

What are Epididymitis, Orchitis and Epididymo-orchitis?

Epididymitis is when the epididymis swells. This disease can be acute (sudden) or chronic (long-term) and is typically from a bacterial infection. Acute epididymitis is felt quickly with redness and pain, and it goes away with treatment. Chronic epididymitis typically is a duller pain, develops slowly and is a longer-term problem. Symptoms of chronic epididymitis can get better, but may not go away fully with treatment and may come and go. Most cases of epididymitis are seen in adults.

Orchitis is swelling of the teste alone is uncommon. It almost always comes on quickly and goes away with treatment. Chronic orchitis isn’t well-defined. It’s thought to be part of a health issue called orchalgia (chronic testicular pain).

Epididymo-orchitis is the sudden swelling of both the epididymis and the teste.