Orchitis is an inflammation of one or both of the testicles. The inflamation is often caused by bacterial infection of the testis. Mumps orchitis, a complication of the childhood viral disease, is the most typical example of complication in childhood; however, some men who get mumps with swelling of the parotid gland (the saliva-producing glands in the cheeks) will experience an inflammation in one or sometimes both testicles.
- Pain in the scrotum, which will be more severe on walking
- The scrotum may become hot and swollen
- Increased body temperature
- The symptoms usually last for about a week
Causes and Risks
Orchitis may be caused by numerous bacterial and viral organisms. The most common viral cause is mumps. Approximately 15 to 25% of men who have mumps after puberty will develop orchitis during the course of the illness. Brucellosis is a rare disease in which orchitis develops in 2 to 20% of men with the disease.
Orchitis may also occur in conjunction with infections of the prostate or epididymis and, like those conditions, may occur as a manifestation of sexually-transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. The incidence of sexually-transmitted orchitis or epididymitis is higher in men 15 to 25 years old.
Risk factors for non-sexually transmitted orchitis include:
- Inadequate immunization against mumps
- Older age (age greater than 45)
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Abnormalities of the urinary tract
Risk factors for sexually transmitted orchitis include:
- Multiple sexual partners
- Other high risk sexual behaviors
- History of a sexual partner with a previously diagnosed STD
- Personal history of gonorrhea or other STD
What is the treatment for orchitis?
- A week's bed rest
- Pain on walking can be eased using a suspensory bandage, which lifts the sore, swollen scrotum
- Painkillers can be used, but antibiotics are not recommended
- Those affected sustain permanent damage to their testicles, which may lead to decreased fertility in a minority of men
An adult man whose child develops mumps should seek medical advice. Gammaglobulin injection may decrease the risk of developing the infection in the testicles. However, the effectiveness of this treatment is still not proven. Today, all children are offered a vaccination against mumps when they are 12 to 15 months old.