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Epididymo-orchitis

Epididymo-orchitis is the inflammation of the epididymis and testicles. It is caused by spread of bacterial infection. Treatment is with oral antibiotics for an average of two weeks.

What is it?

The inflammation of the epididymis (the tube that carries the sperm from the testes) and testicles is called epididymo-orchitis. It is caused by a spread of bacterial infection, most commonly gonorrhoea and chlamydia in young men.

If it is left untreated, it could lead to chronic epididymo-orchitis, where persistent testicular inflammation leads to recurring testicular pain. It can also lead to testicular shrinkage or testicular abscess (pus collection within the testicle).

How do I catch it?

The infections that cause epididymo-orchitis, such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia are passed from one person to another during unprotected sex. This includes vaginal, anal and oral sex.

A urine infection can also cause epididymo-orchitis, although this is not sexually transmitted.

What symptoms could I have?

Testicular pain and scrotal swelling are the most common symptoms of epididymo-orchitis. Some might also notice a discharge (liquid) from the tip of the penis, experience pain when passing urine and occasionally a low grade fever might be present.

How do you test for it?

Epididymo-orchitis is usually diagnosed by a physical examination of the testicles at the sexual health clinic. In some circumstances, testicular ultrasound might also help. All patients are also offered a test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia.

You can use the service finder to find a testing service near you.

How do you treat it?

Treatment is with oral antibiotics for an average of two weeks. If you undergo treatment, you will have a follow up after two weeks to check that the symptoms have improved.

If you are treated for epididymo-orchitis, it is really important that your partner also gets treated before you have sex again to prevent reinfection.

Once you have been treated, the epididymo-orchitis will not come back unless you have unprotected sex with someone who has an untreated infection.

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