Orchitis is an infection in one or both testicles. It can be viral or bacterial. Orchitis may be caused by:

  • Epididymitis. The epididymis is the duct that carries semen out of the testicle to the urethra (tract that passes urine). If it becomes infected, bacteria can spread to the testicle. A common cause of epididymitis and orchitis is an STI (sexually transmitted infection), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Other infections can also cause epididymitis, especially in men over age 40.

  • Prostate infection. The prostate gland surrounds a portion of the urethra. An infection in the prostate gland can spread to the testicle.

  • Mumps. This is the most common virus that can cause orchitis. One-third of males over age 10 with mumps will get mumps orchitis. One-half of orchitis infections lead to shrinking of the involved testicle. Infertility can rarely occur. It occurs only if both testicles are affected.

Orchitis causes pain or heaviness in one or both testicles. This pain may spread to the lower abdomen. The testicle is tender and swollen. The skin of the scrotum may become red or purplish. You may notice blood in your semen. Other symptoms include high fever, nausea, and vomiting. You may have pain with urination or sex.

Treatment of bacterial orchitis is antibiotics for 10 days. Treatment for viral (mumps) orchitis is aimed at symptom relief only. This is because antibiotics don't work for viruses. It usually takes 1 to 3 weeks for mumps orchitis to go away.

Home care

These guidelines will help you care for yourself at home:

  • If you were given antibiotics, take them all as prescribed. It's important to finish them, even if you are feeling better.

  • You may use over-the-counter medicines to control pain, unless you were given another medicine. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or have ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines.

  • Elevate your scrotum. Use snug-fitting briefs or an athletic supporter.

  • To help with pain and swelling, place an ice pack (ice cubes in a plastic zip lock bag, wrapped in a thin towel or use a bag of frozen peas) over the scrotum for no more than 20 minutes every 3 to 6 hours during the first 24 to 48 hours. Then, continue to use ice packs as needed for pain and swelling.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider after you finish all antibiotics, or as advised. If a culture was taken, you may call as directed for the results. Use condoms or don't have sex until you get the results. If you have an STI, continue this protection until both you and your sexual partner finish treatment.

Call 911

Call 911 if you have any of these:

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Continued nausea or vomiting

  • Trouble passing urine

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Increasing pain and swelling in one or both testicles

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell