Epididymitis and Orchitis: Care Instructions

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Male reproductive system


Epididymitis is pain and swelling of the tube that is attached to each testicle. This tube is called the epididymis. Orchitis is pain and swelling of the testicle. Infection with bacteria often causes these conditions. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) also can cause both conditions. This is often the case in males younger than 35. Other causes are infections from surgery or having a catheter that drains urine. The mumps virus also can cause orchitis.

Anti-inflammatory or pain medicines can help with the pain. Antibiotics are used if the problem is caused by bacteria. They are not used if a virus is the cause. Your testicle may stay swollen for many days or even a few weeks.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Limit your activity to what is comfortable, and avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting.
  • Wear snug underwear or an athletic supporter. This can help reduce pain.
  • Apply either cold or heat to the swollen area. Use the one that works best for your pain. Sitting in a warm bath for 15 minutes twice a day will help reduce the swelling more quickly.
  • If you have been told that an STI may have caused your condition, do not have sex until your doctor says it is safe. This will prevent spreading the infection. Tell your sex partner or partners that they need to be checked. They may need treatment.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your pain gets worse.
  • You have a new or higher fever.
  • You have new or more swelling of your testicle.
  • You have new belly pain, or your pain gets worse.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.