At the back of each testicle is a coiled tube called the epididymis that stores and carries sperm.
When this tube become inflamed (painful, warm and swollen), it's known as epididymitis.
The cause of epididymitis is usually an infection, and antibiotics may be needed. It might take several weeks for the symptoms to get better.
If the testicles are also inflamed, it's known as epididymo-orchitis.
Epididymitis causes sudden pain in one or both of the testicles. The scrotum will feel tender, warm and swollen.
There may be a build-up of fluid around the testicle (a hydrocele), which will feel like a lump or swelling.
Sometimes there may also be a discharge from the tip of the penis. This means the cause may be a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Sometimes, it becomes difficult to pee, or you need to pee more often. This means the cause may be a urinary tract infection.
See your GP if you think you have these symptoms, so the cause can be properly diagnosed and treated.
It can be difficult to tell whether testicular pain is the result of epididymo-orchitis, or a much more serious condition called testicular torsion.
Testicular torsion means that the spermatic cord (cord that supplies the testicles with blood) has become severely twisted. It needs very urgent treatment, so if you have any doubt about the cause of your testicular pain, make sure you're seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
Epididymitis is usually caused by:
UTIs are much less common in men than women. In men, a UTI may be caused by an enlarged prostate gland pressing on the bladder, the insertion of a catheter into the penis, or recent surgery to the groin, prostate gland or bladder.
Men of any age can develop epididymitis.
More unusually, epididymitis is caused by:
When the cause isn't known, it's termed idiopathic epididymitis.
Your GP will probably need to carry out a physical examination of your groin, to check for signs of inflammation and infection.
To find out the underlying cause of the epididymitis, you may need to have:
If you've been diagnosed with epididymitis, you'll need to rest and take over-the-counter painkillers to manage any pain. Ibuprofen may be recommended, as this also eases the inflammation.
It may help to:
If the underlying cause is an infection, you may need antibiotics. Read about the:
If you have gonorrhoea or chlamydia, you'll need to avoid having sex until you and your partner have completed treatment for this.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.