Complications and Symptoms of Mumps in Men

In Men, Mumps Can Cause Orchitis or Testicular Swelling

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Mumps is an acute viral infection that is most common in the winter and spring. Mumps is more common in children but riskier in older children and can, in rare cases, cause long-term and life-threatening complications in men.

Mumps is spread through contact with infected saliva or discharges from the nose or throat of infected people, usually through sneezing and coughing.

The usual incubation period for mumps is between 16 to 18 days although this period may vary between 12 to 25 days.

A person who has mumps is contagious (can pass on the virus) for the 3 days before signs and symptoms become evident and for 4 days after the onset of them. Mumps is less contagious than measles or chickenpox but as contagious as flu and rubella.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of mumps include the following:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tenderness of one or more of the salivary glands close to the jaw. The parotid gland located in front of the ear is the most commonly affected gland.


Complications of mumps, although potentially very serious, are quite rare. In men these complications include:

  • Orchitis is an inflammatory condition that causes swelling of one or both testicles. Orchitis although painful rarely leads to sterility.
  • Meningitis is infection and inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is a rare complication of mumps but can be life-threatening.
  • Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain caused by a viral infection, in this case, mumps. Encephalitis is a serious but rare complication of mumps but can be life-threatening.
  • Pancreatitis is a complication of mumps that causes swelling of the pancreas.
  • Hearing loss is a rare complication of mumps. Mumps can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss in one or both ears.


    Once you have had mumps you acquire immunity. This means people who have had mumps rarely get it again. If they do it is usually a much milder case of the illness.


    There is a vaccine for mumps. This is usually administered in childhood. The vaccine is usually offered in combination with the vaccine for measles and mumps. High immunization rates in your local community provide good protection for adults and children. Unfortunately, the rates of mumps are increasing because the MMR (measles mumps and rubella) vaccine has been linked with autism. This link is not supported by scientific studies.

    Not all adults will need to consider having a vaccination against mumps (MMR). This includes you if:

    • A blood test shows you already have immunity to mumps
    • If you have already have had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine
    • If you have already had 1 dose of MMR and a second dose of measles vaccine
    • You have had one dose of MMR vaccine and are not at high risk of becoming exposed to the disease
    • If you are a man who was born before 1957 you do not require the vaccine.

    It is advisable for adults to have the MMR vaccine if you are a health worker, a college student, in the military or are traveling abroad where you are more likely to come into contact with mumps.

    The vaccine is not recommended for people who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin, if you have had cancer, a blood disorder, or another disease that affects your immune system. If this profile fits you then you must consult your doctor before making the decision to have an MMR vaccine.

    MMR Vaccine Adverse Effects

    The great majority of people who have the MMR vaccine or the mumps vaccine experience no side effects at all. In 1 out of 1,000,000 doses, the recipient experiences a serious allergic reaction. Ten percent experience fever that occurs within between 5 to 12 days following the vaccination.

    Five percent of people develop a mild rash.


    Self-care, unless you get complications, is best. There is not much the doctor can do. Take yourself to bed if you have a fever and take things easy. You can take aspirin or ibuprofen to help bring down the fever and ease any muscle discomfort. Eat what you fancy and drink plenty of fluids. Have someone nice look after you.