Learn More About Orchitis (AKA Swollen Testicles)

Swollen Testicles Are Commonly Caused by Mumps

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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.

What Is Mumps?

As previously mentioned, swollen testicles in men brings to mind infection with the mumps virus.

Mumps is a viral infection that hits the parotid glands, or salivary glands, below the ears. Prior to the introduction of the MMR vaccine, mumps was a common infection in the United States and throughout the world. Unfortunately, mumps still crops up in occasional outbreaks in the United States because not everybody (antivaxxers) gets the vaccine. When mumps does crop up, it's a serious publish health problem.

Mumps is spread by contact among individuals. People who aren't immune to the virus--those who haven't been vaccinated--can catch the mumps virus by means of respiratory dropletes. Specifically, if somebody with mumps coughs or sneezes next to a person who is not immunized, the uninfected person is at risk of catching the illness.

Symptoms of Mumps

Mumps can present in the following ways:

  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • fever
  • swollen glands
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • pain while chewing

Swollen parotid, or salivary glands, are the hallmark of mumps, and people with swollen glands have "puffy" faces.

Infection with the mumps virus can also result in inflammation of the following organs:

  • pancreas
  • brain
  • ovaries
  • breasts
  • testicles

Infection with mumps is also linked to hearing loss and miscarriage.

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