Epididymitis is a disease in which the organ being affected is Epididymis (curved tube behind the testicle to store, mature and carry sperms). There can be pain, inflammation or swelling in the Epididymis. The pain may spread to vas deferens or to one testicle or to both testicles. The pain may arise at regular intervals continuing up for few minutes or even hours or even days. If the swelling also persists then it can be seen in the inguinal canal, giving the appearance like that of a hernia. According to the surveys, Epididymitis is less common in boys who have not attained puberty. However for men from 16 to 30 years of age and 51 to 70 years this is quite a common disease.
Types of Epididymitis
Epididymitis can be classified as follows:
- Acute Epididymitis: is sudden and can be cured with immediate treatment. However there can be inflammation, redness and warmth in the scrotum and these may be severe.
- Chronic Epididymitis: is a long duration condition persisting for even more than 6 weeks or even for five years. It can be characterized by pain which aggravates gradually and can be made better with treatment but not fully cured. The pain is more localized than the acute Epididymitis.80% cases lie in the category of chronic Epididymitis.
- OrchiEpididymitis or Epididymo-orchitis: if the inflammation extends up to the testicles also then the suffering is termed as Epididymo-orchitis.
Symptoms of Epididymitis
- The germs may accumulate over several days ultimately leading to pain and swelling, inflammation and redness.
- The patient may also suffer from fever and the temperature of scrotal may also rise.
- The skin can be tender and palpation may give information about firmness of Epididymis.
- Urethral discharge or urethral pain or itching
- Urination may be painful or accompanied with blood.
- Presence of blood droplets in semen
- Formation of lump in testicles which may get harder with time
- The entire scrotum can also swell up due to liquid (Hydrocele).
Complications of Epididymitis
- Formation of abscess (collection of pus in tissue due to the result of inflammation) and infraction(tissue death arising out of loss of supply of blood/oxygen) in scrotum.
- The effects of chronic Epididymitis can be really very severe. It may damage the epididymis or testicle permanently, leading to infertility or Hypogonadism.
- The infection may spread further to other parts of the body.
- Chronic pain can also be experienced if chronic Epididymitis remains untreated.
- Atrophy – the affected testicles (one or both) may lose its original structure and may shrink in size.
Risk factors of Epididymitis
- Sexual transmission: You can acquire Epididymitis due to an STI (sexually transmitted infection). This may happen due to the following practices like: having sex with multiple partners, having unprotected sex or having sex with a person suffering from an STI.
- Self STI record: If in the past you have had any STI infection then the situation can be really alarming and you can be easily prone to infections causing Epididymitis.
- Bacterial growth may also lead to this disease in your body if you are/have suffered from any infections of the urinary tract or prostrate.
- Surgeries performed or urinary catheter to clean the urinary tract or insertion of scope into the penis can also prove to be a breeding ground for bacterial infection.
- Bladder infections due to reasons like enlargement of prostrate etc. will not allow for easy passage of urine thus making a base for infection growth and affect you in the form of Epididymitis.
When to approach for medical help
If you experience sudden testicle pain or pain in testicles due to any injury, then without any delay rush to the nearest health care centre. Try referring specifically to a specialist who deals with male sexual disorders.
If your condition is stable then you can do it in a more organized way by preparing a list of symptoms you have been experiencing, what may be the possible causes, history of the medical treatments you might have undergone, questions you would be asking to your doctor. The questions can be about the tests being recommended, check up of partner for any STI, special cautions to keep in mind while taking medication for other ailments as well, when can improvement be expected post starting of treatment etc.
Epididymitis will not lead to more diseases like cancer or will not reduce hormone production or anything like reducing your potential to be a father or similar effects won’t be seen. But yes it can be passed on to your partner and can become an endless suffering as well if not taken care of at the right time.