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Is Orchitis an STD?

A staggering 20 million new STD cases are reported annually in the U.S., and the rates are on an upward trajectory. And while these infections are preventable, many people are still at risk. The stats also show why it’s important to get regular STD testing in Portland or your local area.

Maybe you’re curious to know whether orchitis is a sexually transmitted infection. Let’s dive deep and shed more light on the condition.


Orchitis is an inflammation of the testicles, which can result from a number of different infections, including some STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. That said, the most common cause of the condition is the mumps virus. If you contract mumps, orchitis can follow soon after, usually after about six days. Other viral infections that can cause orchitis include rubella and chickenpox.

Sometimes, bacterial infections such as E. coli, streptococcus, pneumococcus, and staphylococcus can result in orchitis. Likewise, bacterial infections that affect the urinary tract and prostate can lead to orchitis. As you’ve noted, the condition is secondary to infection.

Risk Factors

Men ages 19 to 35 are particularly susceptible to sexually transmitted orchitis, with the rate of occurrence in this group being notably higher than in other age groups. That said, you’re at greater risk for sexually transmitted orchitis if you:

  • Engage in high-risk sexual activities such as unprotected sex.
  • Have multiple sexual partners
  • Recently had an STD such as gonorrhea
  • Are sexually active and haven’t been tested for STIs.

Some people may develop orchitis without known risk factors. Likewise, factors unrelated to STIs can lead to infection. These include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Urinary tract surgery
  • Failure to receive the mumps vaccine
  • Frequent UTIs
  • Congenital issues affecting the urinary tract
  • Scarring in the urinary tract
  • An enlarged prostate


Testicular swelling due to orchitis typically starts by affecting one testicle before spreading to the other. It can also affect the scrotum – the thin skin sac surrounding the testicles. The inflammation and swelling usually begin to subside after a few days, but it may take up to a week to go down (following treatment). Other symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen or scrotum
  • Fever
  • Pain and tenderness in the scrotum
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Abnormal discharge

If you experience swelling or pain in the pelvic area, see a healthcare provider immediately so they can diagnose and treat the problem. Your physician can examine you and run tests to rule out or confirm bacterial or viral infections. Some of these tests include:

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasonography – used to detect fluid accumulation and blood flow in the scrotal area.

A range of health concerns can cause discomfort in the testicles, some requiring urgent medical attention. That said, early diagnosis and prompt treatment can help prevent complications such as infertility (although rare), testicular abscess, and permanent testicle damage.


Fortunately, treatment for orchitis is usually successful. Antibiotics work well to treat bacterial infections – depending on the underlying cause.

In case of viral-related orchitis, your physician may recommend over-the-counter medications to reduce pain and inflammation. Your partner should also get treatment if your infection is sexually transmitted.

Sometimes, your doctor may recommend abstaining from sexual activities for a few days to allow the testicles to heal. They may also advise using ice packs (wrapped in a towel) to reduce swelling and pain. You may also wear an athletic support belt or jockstrap at home to reduce swelling as you rest and nurse the affected area.


Given the most common cause of orchitis is mumps, getting vaccinated against the disease is one surefire way to reduce your risk. Likewise, practice safe sex by using protection and get tested for STDs regularly to rule out infections.

Good hygiene and hydration can also keep UTIs at bay and reduce the risk of orchitis. For instance, avoid tight clothing as it can put you on the hook for a UTI infection and by extension, orchitis.

For men with recurrent cases of orchitis, doctors may advise other forms of contraception, such as condoms or spermicide, to prevent future infections. Also, if you have a urethral stricture, you may need to undergo urethral dilation or surgery to correct it.

Orchitis is a painful and potentially serious condition. And although it’s secondary to bacterial and viral infections, you can reduce the risk of contracting it by adopting a smart approach. But even if you’re diagnosed with orchitis and the underlying cause turns out to be minor, always follow your doctor’s orders and take medications as prescribed to ensure the expected outcome.

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