Orchitis (or-KIE-tis) is an inflammation of one or both testicles, most commonly associated with the virus that causes mumps. At least one-third of males who contract mumps after puberty develop orchitis.
Other causes of orchitis usually are bacterial, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Bacterial orchitis often results from epididymitis, an inflammation of the coiled tube (epididymis) at the back of the testicle that stores and carries sperm. In that case, it's called epididymo-orchitis.
Swelling and pain are the most common signs and symptoms of orchitis.
Orchitis symptoms usually develop suddenly. Orchitis symptoms may include:
The terms "testicle pain" and "groin pain" are sometimes used interchangeably. But groin pain occurs in the fold of skin between the thigh and abdomen — not in the testicle. The causes of groin pain are different from the causes of testicle pain.
When to see a doctor
A number of conditions can cause testicle pain, and some of the conditions require immediate treatment. One such condition involves twisting of the spermatic cord (testicular torsion), which may cause pain similar to that caused by orchitis. Your doctor can perform tests to determine which condition is causing your pain.
Orchitis can be caused by either a bacterial or viral infection.
Epididymitis usually is caused by an infection of the urethra or bladder that spreads to the epididymis. Often the cause of the infection is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), particularly gonorrhea or chlamydia. Other causes of infection may be related to having been born with abnormalities in your urinary tract or having had a catheter or medical instruments inserted into your penis.
Male reproductive system
The male reproductive system makes, stores and moves sperm. Testicles produce sperm. Fluid from the seminal vesicles and prostate gland combine with sperm to make semen. The penis ejaculates semen ...
Several factors may contribute to developing orchitis. For nonsexually transmitted orchitis, they include:
High-risk sexual behaviors that can lead to STIs also put you at risk of sexually transmitted orchitis. They include having:
Complications of orchitis may include:
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment you may be referred immediately to a doctor who specializes in urinary issues (urologist).
To get all the information you need from your doctor, it helps to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's how.
What you can do
Preparing questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. List your questions from most important to least important. For orchitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions that arise during your appointment, or at any time you need clarification.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Tests that your doctor may use to diagnose orchitis and to rule out other causes of your testicle pain include:
Treatments and drugs
Treatment depends on the cause of orchitis.
Treating bacterial orchitis
Antibiotic drugs most commonly used to treat bacterial orchitis include ceftriaxone (Rocephin), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), doxycycline (Vibramycin, Doryx), azithromycin (Zithromax), and trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole combined (Bactrim, Septra). Make sure your doctor is aware of any other medications you're taking or any allergies you have. This information, as well as whether your infection is sexually transmitted and what type of STI you have, will help your doctor select the best treatment.
Be sure to take the entire course of antibiotics recommended by your doctor. Even if your symptoms clear up sooner, take all your antibiotics to ensure that the infection is gone. It may take several weeks for the tenderness to disappear.
Treating viral orchitis
Lifestyle and home remedies
To ease your discomfort, try these suggestions:
Practicing safer sex, such as having just one sex partner and using a condom, helps protect against STIs, which helps prevent STI-related bacterial orchitis.
Getting immunized against mumps is your best protection against viral, mumps-related orchitis. The vaccine is recommended for children older than 1 year, with a booster shot recommended when your child is between 4 and 6 years old.
Last Updated: 2011-10-07
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