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Epididymitis in Children and Teens

The epididymis is a tiny, coiled tube in the male reproductive system. It is where sperm are stored and mature. There are two of them. Each sits on top of the testicles and connects them to the vas deferens. The vas deferens carries sperm to the urethra, through which sperm in semen exit the penis.

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Epididymitis is an inflammation or infection of the epididymis.

Facts about epididymitis

Teens are most commonly affected by epididymitis. It's usually caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD). So, it's mainly seen in males between ages 14 and 35. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the main STDs responsible for epididymitis.

Younger children can get epididymitis, too. In those cases, it is usually linked to a urinary tract infection.

Symptoms

Epididymitis usually has symptoms early on. They include:

  • Pain and swelling in the testicles

  • Fever

  • Feeling of heaviness in the testicles

  • Discharge from the urethra

  • Blood in the semen

  • Lump in the testicles

  • Pain during urination or ejaculation

Diagnosis

If your child has these symptoms, his healthcare provider will do a physical exam. He or she may also do blood and urine tests. The healthcare provider may order an ultrasound of  the testicular area to find the cause of the pain and swelling. Tests to look for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and other bacteria are often done, too, depending on your son's age.

Treatment

Epididymitis is almost always caused by a bacterial infection. So, antibiotics are the first line of treatment. Your child's healthcare provider may also prescribe pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicine.

If symptoms don't improve within 72 hours of treatment, the provider may want to re-check your child.

If an STD causes epididymitis, sexual partners within the 60 days before symptoms appeared should be told. They need to be treated. A sexually active teen and his partner should not have sex until both have been treated and no longer have symptoms.

Prevention

Epididymitis is usually sexually transmitted, so practicing safe sex is the way to prevent it. Safe sex includes having using condoms during sex and not having more than one sex partner. To prevent any problems that can come from epididymitis, it's important your son see his healthcare provider as soon as any symptoms appear.

Home care

Your son's healthcare provider can provide information about other steps to help relieve the pain and swelling of epididymitis. This may include elevating the scrotum and using ice. Bed rest may also help. 

Medical Reviewers:

  • Greenstein, Marc, DO
  • Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.