Epididymitis (ep-ih-did-uh-MY-tis) is an inflammation of the coiled tube (epididymis) at the back of the testicle that stores and carries sperm. Males of any age can get epididymitis.
Epididymitis is most often caused by a bacterial infection, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Sometimes, a testicle also becomes inflamed — a condition called epididymo-orchitis.
Products & Services
Epididymitis is an inflammation of the small, coiled tube at the back of the testicle (epididymis).
Signs and symptoms of epididymitis might include:
- A swollen, red or warm scrotum
- Testicle pain and tenderness, usually on one side, that usually comes on gradually
- Painful urination or an urgent or frequent need to urinate
- Discharge from the penis
- Pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen or pelvic area
- Blood in the semen
- Less commonly, fever
Epididymitis that lasts longer than six weeks or that recurs is considered chronic. Symptoms of chronic epididymitis might come on gradually. Sometimes the cause of chronic epididymitis isn't identified.
When to see a doctor
Never ignore scrotal pain or swelling, which can be caused by a number of conditions. Some of them require immediate treatment to avoid permanent damage.
If scrotal pain is severe, seek emergency treatment. See a doctor if you have discharge from your penis or pain when you urinate.
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing!
You'll soon start receiving the latest Mayo Clinic health information you requested in your inbox.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
Male reproductive system
The male reproductive system makes, stores and moves sperm. Testicles produce sperm. Fluid from the seminal vesicles and prostate gland combine with sperm to make semen. The penis ejaculates semen during sexual intercourse.
Causes of epididymitis include:
- STIs. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the most common causes of epididymitis in young, sexually active men.
- Other infections. Bacteria from a urinary tract or prostate infection might spread from the infected site to the epididymis. Also, viral infections, such as the mumps virus, can result in epididymitis.
- Urine in the epididymis (chemical epididymitis). This condition occurs when urine flows backward into the epididymis, possibly because of heavy lifting or straining.
- Trauma. A groin injury can cause epididymitis.
- Tuberculosis. Rarely, epididymitis can be caused by tuberculosis infection.
Certain sexual behaviors that can lead to STIs put you at risk of sexually transmitted epididymitis, including having:
- Sex with a partner who has an STI
- Sex without a condom
- A history of STIs
Risk factors for nonsexually transmitted epididymitis include:
- History of prostate or urinary tract infections
- History of medical procedures that affect the urinary tract, such as insertion of a urinary catheter or scope into the penis
- An uncircumcised penis or an anatomical abnormality of the urinary tract
- Prostate enlargement, which increases the risk of bladder infections and epididymitis
Complications of epididymitis include:
- Pus-filled infection (abscess) in the scrotum
- Epididymo-orchitis, if the condition spreads from your epididymis to your testicle
- Rarely, reduced fertility
To help protect against STIs that can cause epididymitis practice safer sex.
If you have recurrent urninary tract infections or other risk factors for epididymitis, your doctor might discuss with you other ways of preventing a recurrence.
Jan. 23, 2021
- Epididymitis. Centers for Disease Control and Infection. https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/epididymitis.htm. Accessed Aug. 21, 2017.
- Epididymitis. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/penile-and-scrotal-disorders/epididymitis. Accessed Aug. 21, 2017.
- Eyre RC. Evaluation of acute scrotal pain in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 21, 2017.
- Eyre RC. Evaluation of nonacute scrotal conditions in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 21, 2017.
- Rupp T, et al. Epididymitis. In: StatPearls (Internet). Treasure Island, Fla.: StatPearls Publishing; 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430814/. Accessed Aug. 21, 2017.
Products & Services