Epididymitis

by Kevin Pederson


The epididymis is a coiled tube that connects the testicle with the vas deferens and is responsible for carrying and storing sperm. Inflammation of the epididymis causes epididymitis, a painful condition that can be caused by a number of factors. Epididymitis is most commonly caused by bacterial infections or sexually transmitted infections. While it is commonest amongst males between the ages of 14 and 35, any male can develop this condition.

Sexually active males are at higher risk of developing epididymitis through the sexually transmitted infection route. Sexually transmitted infections that have been known to cause inflammation of the epididymis include gonorrhea and chlamydia. Fungal infections too have been known to cause epididymitis, but this is relatively rare.

Apart from sexually transmitted infections, other types of bacterial infections may also result in epididymitis. Chief among them are urinary and prostate infections. The bacteria from these sites may spread to the testicles, resulting in epididymitis. Another suspect is the H. pylori bacteria, which may spread to the epididymis from the gastric regions where it is usually found. While the exact route of transmission of H. pylori is still not proven, researchers suspect that it is transmitted by oral sex. However, the evidence in this matter is still sketchy and more research needs to be conducted into the transmission of H. pylori through oral sex.

Epididymitis can also result as a side effect of certain medications such as amiodarone (Pacerone). If such is the case, then the dosage may be reduced or the medication discontinued. Epididymitis may also be caused by tuberculosis.

Factors that increase the risk of developing epididymitis include being uncircumcised, deformities in the urinary tract, surgery, regular use of urethral catheters and unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Epididymitis may begin as a slightly heavy feeling in your testicles and may be accompanied by low-grade fever and chills. The testicles also seem to be much more sensitive than usual. Other symptoms that call for a visit to the doctor include blood in the semen, pain in the groin area, a discharge from the penis, a lump in the testicles, a burning sensation or pain during urination or ejaculation, swelling in the testicles, and pain in the testicles that gets aggravated by bowel movements.

Depending on the cause of your epididymitis, your doctor may treat you with antibiotics, pain and anti-inflammatory medications. This is usually sufficient to take care of the infection. Your partner may also have to be treated. To prevent future recurrences of epididymitis your doctor may instruct you on safe sex practices which you will be best advised to follow. If your epididymitis has been caused by urinary tract infections, your doctor will suggest ways and means to prevent future infections.

While there are a few natural remedies that you can try to relieve the symptoms of epididymitis, it is better to consult your doctor before trying any of them. This is because epididymitis is a serious condition and can lead to some serious complications. These include abscesses and fistulas on the scrotum, testicular infarction or the death of the testicles due to lack of blood supply and infertility.

Some of the home remedies for epididymitis that will help bring you relief include:

  • Bed Rest: Staying in bed for a few days will bring you some relief from the discomfort you are experiencing.
  • Elevate your Scrotum: Keep a folded towel under your scrotum to act as a support.
  • Athletic Supporters: Wearing an athletic supporter or jockstrap will provide you with some relief.
  • Ice packs: Applying ice packs to your scrotum will also help to reduce the swelling and provide you with relief.
  • Avoid Sex: This will allow your testicles to heal faster and also prevent your partner from getting infected.

Certain foods may also help ease the symptoms and help you to recover faster. Cranberries are one such food. They possess natural antibiotics that can help your body to fight off bacterial infections. For the best results it is suggested that you have fresh cranberry juice or the unsweetened variety. Avoid eating sweetened foods while under treatment as they will serve as fertile ground for the bacteria to breed in.

Yarrow is a herb that has been used by traditional healers to treat epididymitis, Yarrow has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the swelling and pain caused by epididymitis. It also possesses antiseptic properties that make it very effective in treating a wide range of genitourinary infections including epididymitis.

Other herbs that can help lessen the pain and inflammation caused by epididymitis include horsemint, mint balm, stone root, willow, birch, kava kava and saw palmetto. Herbs that possess antibacterial properties that may also help treat epididymitis include corn silk and usnea.

Remember to consult your doctor before trying any of these home remedies. Your doctor will be the best person to advise you on their efficacy.

References

  1. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.26945-0Microbiology March 2004 vol. 150 no. 3 520-522
  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001279.htm

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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