Despite being housed in a shapeless sack, there’s a lot going on with the testicles. There are the testes themselves inside your scrotum, of course, but there are also a variety of other tubes and wirings that do their jobs back there. You probably don’t need to think much about those — until they start hurting.
One of those little problematic parts is the epididymis, which you may not even know exists until you’ve already got yourself a case of epididymitis. In basic terms, epididymitis is inflammation of the epididymis, which is a tube in the back of the balls that stores and carries sperm. According to Healthline, inflammation is typically caused by a bacterial infection or even STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia. It’s treatable, but the inflammation itself will likely be painful.
In addition to general pain and tenderness in the ball region or pelvis, some cases of epididymitis cause other genital-related symptoms, such as frequent urination, discharge and blood in the semen. Because it’s caused by an infection, your body may also respond by giving you a fever, enlarging the lymph nodes and causing chills.
It can happen to just about anyone with testicles, but there are some characteristics and practices that make someone more likely to experience it. Sexually transmitted infections are the most common cause in men under 35, meaning having unprotected sex puts you at a higher risk. Being uncircumcised also increases risk, as does having recently had an injury or surgery in the groin area, including vasectomies. While STIs are again the common cause for it, bacterial infections from said surgeries or having a catheter or tuberculosis can also occur. Even bacteria from a urinary tract infection can travel to the epididymis, causing epididymitis.
Regardless of cause, there’s no major reason to worry so long as you seek treatment. Urine and blood samples can be tested to see if there’s an infection in the body, meaning you’d need antibiotics. By curing the infection, you’re curing the pain of epididymitis. You might also be prescribed an anti-inflammation treatment, while pain relievers, cold packs and bed rest can also help ease the symptoms.
On average, you’re looking at a maximum of three months of epididymitis symptoms without any long-term complications — some people do experience chronic epididymitis, which in rare cases can cause further problems and potentially even infertility. Acute epididymitis, though, is relatively common and treatable.
As always, with any type of genital pain, go talk to your doctor right away if you’re experiencing something new. An infection of this kind isn’t going to go away on its own. So go get that epididymis fixed, king.