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Orchitis (Inflammation Of The Testicles): Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors And Treatments

Orchitis is a common condition characterised by inflammation of one or both testicles. Men between the age of 15 to 29 are more prone to the condition. Testes or testicles are male reproductive organs that help in the making of testosterone (a main male sex hormone) and production of sperm.

Orchitis can be symptomatic and acute or asymptomatic and chronic. The condition is often accompanied by an infection of the epididymis, a coiled and long tube that stores sperm and carries them from the testicles. Take a look at the details.

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Causes Of Orchitis

The main cause of orchitis is bacterial or viral infections. This include:

  • Mumps and rubella virus, the most common virus that causes orchitis. [1]
  • Bacteria such as Staphylococcus, E.coli and K. pneumoniae.
  • Bacteria such as N. gonorrhoeae (gonorrhoea), C. trachomatis (chlamydia) and T. pallidum (syphilis) which are responsible for causing sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
  • Bacteria which are responsible for causing tuberculosis and UTIs.
  • Viruses such as echovirus (cause paralysis and meningitis) and varicella (chickenpox).
  • Fungi such as Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans, especially in people with a weaker immune system.

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Symptoms Of Orchitis

The symptoms of orchitis usually begin between 3-7 days after getting infected.

  • Swelling or inflammation of one or both testes. [2]
  • Fever
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Mild to severe pain in the testes
  • Painful ejaculation [3]
  • Blood in the semen
  • Tendered scrotum
  • Enlarged prostate

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Risk Factors Of Orchitis

Sexually active people are at increased risk of orchitis. Common factors include:

  • Having sex with multiple partners [4]
  • Having sex with a partner having STI
  • Personal history of STI
  • Having unprotected sex (sex without condoms)
  • Having frequent UTI
  • Surgery in the genitals
  • Not immunised against mumps [5]
  • Congenital abnormality of urinary tract

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Complications Of Orchitis

Untreated orchitis can cause conditions such as:

  • Infertility or low testosterone production (especially if both the testes are affected) [6]
  • Testicular atrophy, shrinking of the testicles.
  • Blisters in the scrotum.

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Diagnosis Of Orchitis

  • Physical examination: To determine the extent of swelling. It also includes asking questions about the history of STD.
  • Urinalysis: To determine the type of infections. [7]
  • Ultrasound: To rule out other conditions such as testicular torsion as pain caused in this condition is similar to orchitis.

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How To Treat Orchitis

  • Medications: Antiviral/antibacterial/antifungal depending on the type of infection. [8]
  • OTC medications: To reduce swelling, pain and fever.
  • Surgery: It includes orchiectomy (removal of the infected testicle) and epididymectomy (removal of the epididymis). This option is suggested by the medical expert only when medications or other treatment methods won't work.

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How To Prevent Orchitis

Congenital urinary tract problems cannot be prevented. The best way to prevent orchitis is by getting vaccinated against mumps and practising safe sex habits.

Common FAQs Related To Orchitis

1. How long does orchitis take to heal?

Viral orchitis usually takes 10 days or two weeks to heal. However, it depends on the severity of the condition and how early the treatment has started.

2. Is orchitis an emergency?

Orchitis is the swelling in one or both testes. If the swelling is mild, it can go away easily by antibiotics or antiviral medications. However, if you notice other symptoms such as vomiting, pain, fever, it is better to consult a medical expert soon for it may cause infertility.

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