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Orchitis: Swollen Testicles

Inflammation and Swelling of Testicles

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Updated October 01, 2013

What Is Orchitis?

Orchitis is the term for inflammation and swelling of one or both of the testicles. Swollen testicles are usually caused by infection, either bacterial or viral.

What Causes Orchitis?

Many cases of orchitis are caused by the mumps virus. Orchitis may also happen as a result of other infections, such as prostatitis, epididymis, or sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Men who experience recurrent urinary infections, who have congenital abnormalities of the urinary tract, or those who have an indwelling catheter are also more at risk of getting orchitis.

What Are the Symptoms of Orchitis?

Common symptoms of orchitis include:

  • Swelling, tenderness or a feeling of "heaviness" in the scrotal area and in the testicle or testicles.
  • Pain in the testicles that gets worse when straining or during a bowel movement.
  • Fever.
  • Pain during urination, sexual intercourse, or ejaculation.
  • Discharge from the penis.
  • Blood in the semen.

If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. If you experience severe pain in the penis or testicles, go to the nearest emergency room. It's important to treat orchitis early, as it can cause many complications. One third of boys who get orchitis from the mumps virus go on to have shrinkage of one or both of the testicles (testicular atrophy). Orchitis can also lead to infertility, scrotal abscess or fistula, or problems with blood flow to the testicles (testicular infarction).

How Is Orchitis Treated?

Orchitis is treated in different ways depending on what has caused it, and how advanced it is. Bacterial infections are usually treated with antibiotics, while the symptoms of viral infections are treated with anti-inflammatories. If the cause is an STD, your partner(s) should also be tested and treated. In rare cases, surgery may be called for. Your doctor will tell you more about the treatment options that make sense for you.

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