- What is epididymitis?
- What you should know about epididymitis
- How do men get epididymitis?
- If my boyfriend has epididymitis, does it mean he cheated?
- If my boyfriend has epididymitis, should I get checked?
- Is epididymitis contagious?
- How to reduce your risk of getting epididymitis?
- How long does epididymitis last?
- How to help your boyfriend during epididymitis recovery
Your boyfriend just told you he has epididymitis, and you’re left wondering what it is or how it happened.
Epididymitis is a common problem, especially for sexually active men.
In this post, you’ll learn more about epididymitis, its causes and symptoms, and whether it could mean your boyfriend is cheating.
Scroll down to read more.
What is epididymitis?
Epididymitis is inflammation of epididymis. The epididymis is a narrow tightly-coiled tube attached to each testicle.
The main function of the epididymis is to store sperm and transport it from the testicles to the vas deferens. 10 to 15 days is usually the total transit time of sperm through the epididymis.
Not all cases of epididymitis are the same. There are two types of this condition:
- Acute epididymitis: develops suddenly and lasts less than six weeks.
- Chronic epididymitis: develops slowly and lasts longer than six weeks. In many cases, the cause of chronic epididymitis is unclear.
Since this uncomfortable and painful inflammation occurs near the testes, it may spread to the testicle. This is the case with any inflammation or infection affecting the epididymis. When inflammation or infection goes from epididymis to testis, it is called epididymo-orchitis.
Epididymitis can significantly affect your boyfriend’s quality of life, but the good news is that it can be treated successfully.
What you should know about epididymitis
Men of all ages can develop epididymitis, but it usually affects males between 18 and 35 years of age. Around 600,000 cases of epididymitis are reported in the U.S. annually. Epididymitis is the most common cause of acute pain in the scrotum among men in the United States.
The most common symptoms of epididymitis include:
- Swelling, warmth, and redness of the scrotum
- Painful urination and/or increased urinary frequency and urgency
- Painful and tender testicle, on one side primarily
- Pain in the testicle develops gradually and moves to the rest of the groin
- Pressure in the testicles
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the groin
- Hematospermia (blood in semen)
- Pain and discomfort in lower abdominal and pelvic floor areas
- Penile discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain during ejaculation
- Fever (less common than other symptoms)
Keep in mind symptoms of epididymitis depend largely on the condition’s cause. Let’s take penile discharge as an example. It’s usually associated with sexually transmitted infections. On the flip side, increased urinary urgency is primarily linked to urinary tract infections.
When left untreated, epididymitis can cause complications such as an abscess in the scrotum, epididymo-orchitis, and fertility problems (rarely).
Another important thing to know is that ejaculation can worsen epididymitis pain. Your boyfriend should abstain from sex (and masturbation) until the inflammation goes away.
Avoiding sexual intercourse is particularly important until the doctor says it is fine. You’ll learn more about it further in this post.
How do men get epididymitis?
Men get epididymitis due to several potential causes. They are:
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
The most common cause of epididymitis is STIs, particularly Chlamydia and gonorrhea. They cause infection in the urethra and reach the epididymis or testes from the vas deferens, thus aggravating inflammation.
Sexually transmitted infections are passed through vaginal, anal, and oral sexual contact from one person to another. Sexually transmitted infections cause acute epididymitis.
In this case, epididymitis is accompanied by urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), which is usually asymptomatic.
Nonsexually transmitted infections can also cause epididymitis. These include urinary tract infections (UTIs) and infections of the prostate gland. Mumps virus and other viral infections can cause epididymitis as well.
In men who aren’t sexually active, the most common cause of epididymitis is urinary tract infection, especially when E. coli reaches the gastrointestinal tract.
Although rare, tuberculosis can also cause epididymitis.
Besides the abovementioned causes, epididymitis may also occur due to groin injury, blockage in the urethra, enlarged prostate, use of a catheter, and surgery on the prostate, bladder, or urethra.
In rare cases, men can develop epididymitis due to exercising or having sexual intercourse with a full bladder, which causes the retrograde flow of urine.
Generally speaking, any man can develop epididymitis. Some men are at a higher risk, though.
Common risk factors for epididymitis associated with STDs include sexual intercourse without a condom, having sex with a person infected with an STI, or having a history of STIs.
Other risk factors associated with epididymitis include a history of infections affecting the urinary tract and prostate, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate, uncircumcised penis or anatomical abnormalities of the urinary tract, and medical history of procedures involving the urinary tract.
If my boyfriend has epididymitis, does it mean he cheated?
If your boyfriend has epididymitis, it doesn’t mean he cheated. Even though the main cause of epididymitis in sexually active men is an STI such as Chlamydia or gonorrhea, it’s not the only one. As this post shows, epididymitis can occur due to various causes.
For example, your boyfriend may develop inflammation of the epididymis due to an infection from other existing bacteria in your system. Bacteria are sneaky, and they may reach a man’s genitourinary tract.
Men can develop epididymitis regardless of their relationship status or sexual activity levels. Even single guys who haven’t had sex for quite a while can develop epididymitis.
To sum up, epididymitis doesn’t imply cheating. If you are worried about your boyfriend’s faithfulness, make sure to discuss this subject with him, especially the cause of his epididymitis.
If my boyfriend has epididymitis, should I get checked?
You should get a check if your boyfriend’s epididymitis is due to a sexually transmitted infection. Also, schedule an appointment to see a healthcare provider if your boyfriend isn’t sure (or didn’t disclose) about the cause of his epididymitis.
Your healthcare provider will test for the presence of STIs. During this time, make sure to avoid having sexual intercourse or use a condom.
Is epididymitis contagious?
Epididymitis is contagious if the cause is a sexually transmitted disease. Although epididymitis is not a sexually transmitted disease itself, it can result from these conditions. This is particularly the case for gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
In other words, a man whose epididymitis is caused by prostate infection, groin injury, or some other non-STD cause can’t spread the condition to someone else. But, it’s contagious if STD is the culprit behind the development of this inflammation.
How to reduce your risk of getting epididymitis?
In order to reduce the risk of getting epididymitis, you can:
- Practice safe sex and use a condom
- Avoid having sexual intercourse with multiple partners
- Avoid sexual intercourse until your boyfriend’s infection is completely gone
How long does epididymitis last?
Most men feel better within three days after starting treatment for epididymitis. That said, it may take up to two weeks to fully recover. In some cases, discomfort and swelling persist for a few months.
The duration of epididymitis varies from one patient to another, depending on the severity of the symptoms. The best thing to do is to adhere to the recommended treatment and take antibiotics as directed.
How to help your boyfriend during epididymitis recovery
The best way to help your boyfriend during recovery from epididymitis is to make sure he adheres to the treatment recommended by a doctor.
The treatment of epididymitis depends on the underlying cause. For example, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat STIs or other bacterial causes of this condition.
Your boyfriend needs to take the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if the symptoms subside and he feels much better.
In order to support his recovery, make sure your boyfriend gets enough rest. Ideally, he should lie down so that his scrotum is elevated.
Pain-relieving medication can help reduce the pain and discomfort he’s experiencing. If he can tolerate it, applying cold compresses on the scrotum could help. Ask your boyfriend if he’s willing to give it a try.
If your boyfriend has an STI and you have it, too, then you also need to get your infection treated. Failing to do so could lead to transmitting the infection back and forth, which could make his epididymitis a lot worse or pave the way to chronic inflammation.
For most men, epididymitis goes away with antibiotics and bed rest. It is not likely to cause problems in reproductive or sexual function.
Treating chronic epididymitis is tricky, but you can help your boyfriend by throwing frequent warm baths.
If your boyfriend has chronic epididymitis, the doctor is unlikely to prescribe antibiotics. After all, antibiotics are only a short-term therapy, and STIs are usually linked to acute epididymitis.
In the case of chronic epididymitis, your boyfriend may need to take anti-inflammatory medication that doesn’t contain steroids and medications that relax muscles.
Stress management techniques are also important here. What you can do to support your boyfriend’s recovery is to help him manage stress more effectively.
Some useful stress-relieving techniques include getting enough sleep, regular exercise, reading or writing, starting a new hobby, meditation, yoga, or something else.
Epididymitis is a common genitourinary problem in men. This inflammation affects men of all ages. The most common cause of epididymitis is a sexually transmitted infection, but other causes are also involved.
Epididymitis doesn’t necessarily mean a boyfriend is cheating on you. But you may want to get checked if he got this inflammation due to STI. Make sure to avoid sexual intercourse until the infection clears.