Epididymitis is accompanied by pain and swelling and these can be the first signs of the disease. If left untreated, it can lead to scrotal abscess, chronic epididymitis, atrophy of the testicles and infertility.

In the human reproductive systems there two basic types of sex cells or gametes that are involved: male reproductive cell called the sperm and the female reproductive cell called the ovum. These sperms are produced by the male reproductive system. The male reproductive system consists of External and Internal sex organs. The Epididymis is an important part of the Internal male sex organs.

What is an Epididymis?
Epididymis is a comma shaped organ which is made up of a long coiled tube and is present behind the testes. This coiled tube is nearly 20 feet long and is divided into three sections like the head, the body and the pointed tail. Each Epididymis on either side of the testes is the place where the sperms are stored until ejaculation. In the Epididymis, the immature sperms from the testes reach maturity and are ready for fertilization. During ejaculation, the smooth muscles lining the Epididymis force the sperms into the other connecting tube called the Vas deferens.

Epididymitis is the inflammation of the Epididymis. Epididymitis can be either caused by a bacterial infection or by a sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhoea or chlamydia. Epididymitis is accompanied by pain and swelling and these can be the first signs of the disease.

Usually Epididymitis occurs in men in the mage group of 15 to 35 years. It can also occur in children due to a bacterial infection or infection transmitted during sexual abuse.
Any infection in the Epididymis can spread to the testicles or vice versa. This can lead to a condition called epididymo-orchitis.

Symptoms of Epididymitis:
The common symptoms of an inflammation like Epididymitis are:

  • Tender, swollen, red and warm scrotum
  • Discomfort and pain in the region of the testicles or the groin
  • Penile discharge
  • Blood in the Urine (Hematuria)
  • In some cases fever
  • Painful urination and ejaculation
  • Enlarged inguinal nodes

Scrotal pain or swellings are the symptoms which should cause concern and which should not be ignored. The underlying reasons could vary from testicular cancer to other minor infections. Hence, one must consult a doctor in an event of scrotal pain, swelling and redness.

Causes of Epididymitis:
As earlier mentioned the two major causes of Epididymitis are Bacterial infection and Sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Apart from these, there could be other reasons and causes of developing Epididymitis inflammation. Let us have a look at few of these other reasons:

Heart medication amiodarone:
A disproportionate dosage of anti-arrhythmic medications can also lead to Epididymitis. It is not a serious condition though and hence can be treated by stopping the medication temporarily or altering the dosage.

In very rare cases, the cause of epididymitis inflammation can be tuberculosis.

Chemical epididymitis:
This is a scientific reference to the urine found in the epididymis. This occurs rarely when the urine flows backwards into the epididymis. Too much stress and strain and lifting very heavy things can lead to chemical Epididymitis.

Possible Complications of Epididymitis:
If left untreated and unattended to, Epididymitis can lead to the following serious conditions that could make this scrotal infection an epic disease:

Scrotal Abscess:
This happens when the infected epididymis tissue gets filled with pus. It gains the proportion of a major infection which can have very serious future ramifications.

Chronic Epididymitis:
A recurrent infection of Epididymitis starts to happen if the initial bout of the inflammation id left untreated and neglected.

Shrinkage of the Testicles:
Atrophy of the testicles is undoubtedly a serious concern as the sperms and the male sex hormones are produced in the testicles.

Reduced Fertility:
Any effect on the production of the sperms and the male sex hormones for a prolonged or recurrent period can lead to infertility. Although it is a rare consequence of Epididymitis, it cannot be completely ruled out.

Epididymitis can be diagnosed by STI screening, Ultrasound imaging and a Nuclear scan of the testicles.

Since it is an infection caused either by bacteria or STIs, it can be treated by administering antibiotics. It is important to complete the course of the prescribed dosage of the antibiotics for a certain number of days to get completely cured.

Safer sexual practices like usage of condoms, avoiding multiple sexual partners and maintaining good personal hygiene could be the possible prevention mechanisms for Epididymitis.