Epididymo–orchitis

What is Epididymo–orchitis?

Epididymo-orchitis is a condition characterised by pain and swelling in the scrotum. It is caused by infection and inflammation in the epididymis and/or testicle.

Epididymitis means inflammation of the epididymis. This is the structure which lies behind the testicle and is involved in storing and transporting sperm made in the testicle.

Orchitis means inflammation of the testicle.

As both structures are so close together, it is often difficult to tell if the epididymis, testicle, or both are inflamed, which is why the term epididymo-orchitis is frequently used.

Pain and swelling in the balls and tubes in men

Caused by an infection – often a bacteria

Sometimes not an STI

Treated with a longer course of antibiotics

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are pain and swelling in one, or sometimes both, testicles and/or epididymides. This can come on quite rapidly and be associated with scrotal swelling and redness. Some men also develop discharge from the tip of the penis and some experience pain when passing urine.

As with any infection you may also feel generally unwell and develop a high temperature (fever).

How is it diagnosed?

Epididymo-orchitis is diagnosed after a medical assessment, which includes a sexual health screen (for chlamydia and gonorrhoea) and urine tests.

Some men may also have an ultrasound scan.

What is the treatment?

Epididymo-orchitis is treated with antibiotics that cover the most likely cause of the infection. Some of the antibiotics are given as an injection as well as tablets.

We also recommend:

  • rest
  • scrotal support with supportive pants
  • regular pain relief with pain killers such as ibuprofen.

If you have been diagnosed with an STI, or are deemed at high risk for contracting an STI, all recent sexual partners need to have a full sexual health screen and treatment with appropriate antibiotics. This helps to prevent repeated infections.

Useful information

For more information visit the British Association of Urological Surgeons.