Orchitis is an inflammation of one or both testis, accompanied by swelling, pain, fever, and a sensation of heaviness in the affected area.
Viral mumps is the most common cause of orchitis. Bacterial infections associated with the disorder are tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. A mechanical injury to the groin area may also cause orchitis. Fifteen to twenty-five percent of males past the age of puberty with mumps develop orchitis. Epididymo-orchitis (inflammation of both testis and part of the spermatic duct) is the most common bacterial type of Orchitis. This form of the condition occurs most often in sexually active males fifteen years and older, and in men over 45 with enlarged prostates.
Causes and symptoms
The people most susceptible to orchitis are those with inadequate mumps inoculation and, in the case of sexually transmitted orchitis, those who practice unsafe sex or have a history of sexually transmitted disease. Inadequate protection of the groin area during contact sports or other potentially harmful physical activities may result in injury leading to orchitis. Symptoms of orchitis include swelling of one or both testicles, tenderness in the groin area, fever, headache, and nausea. Symptoms may also include bloody discharge from the penis, and pain during urination, intercourse, or ejaculation.
In most cases, Orchitis can be diagnosed by an urologist, general practitioner, or emergency room physician. Diagnosis is usually based on the results of a physical examination and patient history. Other testing may include a urinalysis and urine culture, screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea, ultrasound imaging, or blood tests.
Elevation and support of the scrotum, and the application of cold packs to the groin area give some relief from the pain of orchitis. Medication for pain such as codeine and meperidine may be given. Only the symptoms of viral mumps orchitis are treated. Antibiotics are used to alleviate orchitis that is bacterial in origin. Sexually transmitted orchitis (especially when resultant from chlamydia or gonorrhea) is often treated with the antibiotic Ceftriaxone in conjunction with azithromycin or doxycycline.
For relief from swelling, the drinking of dandelion tea is recommended in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Another traditional Chinese treatment for swelling is the application of a poultice of ground dandelion and aloe to
Orchitis is usually unilateral and lasts between one and two weeks. Atrophy of the scrotum occurs in 60% of orchitis cases. However, hormonal function is not affected and resulting sterility is rare from mumps.
Keeping mumps inoculations current and diligently practicing safe sex are the best ways to prevent orchitis from occurring. For males involved in contact sports or other potentially harmful physical activities, the wearing of a protective cup over the genitals will help guard against mechanical injuries that could lead to orchitis.
Center for Disease Control, Prevention Staff and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1998 Guidelines for Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. McLean, VA: International Medical Publishing, Inc., 1998.
Zand, Janet, Allan N. Spreen, and James B. LaValle. "Mumps" In Smart Medicine for Healthier Living. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1998.
Casella, R., B. Leibundgut, K. Lehman, et al. "Mumps Orchitis: Report of a Mini-Epidemic." Journal of Urology (December 1997).
Rodriguez, Rod. "Acute Scrotum Due to Epididymo-Orchitis in Male Children." Impotence & Male Health Weekly Plus (February 1999).
Mycyck, Mark, MD. "Orchitis from Emergency Medicine/Genitourinary." Emedicine, Instant Access to the Minds of Medicine. February 2001. <http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic344.htm>.
Atrophy—A wasting away or withering.
Epididymo-orchitis—Inflammation of both the testis and a part of the spermatic duct system.
Unilateral—Affecting only one side.