What Are Epididymitis and Orchitis?
Epididymitis is an inflammation of the epididymis. Inflammation is most often caused by bacteria in the urinary tract (a bladder infection) or by bacteria passed between partners during sex. When the inflammation spreads to a testicle, it is called orchitis.
The Testicle and the Epididymis
The 2 testicles are the male sex organs that produce sperm and male hormones. The testicles lie inside the scrotum. Behind each testicle is a coiled tube called the epididymis.
Normal Flow of Sperm and Urine
Sperm travel from the testicle through the epididymis into a tube called the vas deferens. During ejaculation, sperm pass out of the body through the urethra. During urination, urine flows from the bladder out through the urethra.
How Inflammation Starts
The urethra contains bacteria. Bacteria can travel from the urethra into the epididymis. This causes inflammation in the epididymis. The inflammation can also spread to the testicle. Rarely, infections, such as mumps, start elsewhere in the body and spread to the testicle, causing orchitis.
Acute inflammation comes on quickly. Symptoms may include:
pain and swelling in the scrotum
a frequent urge to urinate
a discharge from the penis
pain during ejaculation
Chronic inflammation is most often the late phase of an acute infection. Symptoms may include: