Epididymitis in Children
Epididymitis is an inflammation or infection of the epididymis. The
epididymis is a thin, coiled tube that sits on top of a male testicle. It's where
are stored and mature. It connects to a tube called the vas deferens. This tube carries
sperm to the urethra. The urethra is the single tube where semen and urine leave the
body through the tip of the penis. Each testicle has an epididymis and a vas
In younger boys, it can be caused by a urinary tract infection. The
infection may be linked to a structural problem in the genitourinary system. In older
boys and teens, it's often caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), which
also called a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It’s most often caused by gonorrhea
chlamydia. These are bacterial infections.
It’s most often seen in teen boys ages 14 and older. Younger children are at risk
if they have had a urinary tract infection.
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
- Pain and swelling in the testicles
- Feeling of heaviness in the testicles
- Fluid leaking from the urethra
- Blood in the semen
- Lump in the testicles
- Pain during urination or ejaculation
The symptoms of epididymitis can
seem like other health conditions. Have your child see their healthcare provider for
The healthcare provider will ask
about your child’s symptoms and health history. They will give your child a physical
exam. Your child may also have tests, such as:
Urine tests. These are to check for
bacteria or other problems.
Ultrasound. This painless imaging
test uses sound waves to look at body tissues. This can help find structural problems
of the genitourinary system.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also
depend on how severe the condition is.
Epididymitis is almost always caused by a bacterial infection. Because of this, the
most common treatment is antibiotic medicine. Your child's healthcare provider may
also prescribe pain medicine and anti-inflammatory medicine. Other steps to help relieve
the pain include raising the scrotum and using ice. Bed rest may also help.
If your teen has an STI, make sure
they tell any sexual partners who had contact within 60 days before symptoms. They
to be treated with medicine. A sexually active teen and their partner should not have
sex until both have been treated and no longer have symptoms.
Talk with your child’s healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible
side effects of all medicines.
If not treated, epididymitis can become chronic. This means inflammation, pain, and
other symptoms don’t go away. Other possible complications include:
- A pocket of infection (abscess) that may need to be drained
- Infection of the testicle
- Lasting (permanent) injury to the
epididymis and testicle
- Fertility problems
Epididymitis is often transmitted through sex. Safe sex is the best
way to prevent it. Safe sex includes using condoms during sex and not having more
When to Call a Healthcare Provider
Call the healthcare provider if your child:
- Does not get better within 72 hours of treatment
- Has symptoms that get worse
- Has new symptoms
- Epididymitis is an inflammation or infection of the epididymis.
- In younger boys, it can be caused by a
urinary tract infection. In older boys and teens, it's often the result of a sexually
transmitted infection (STI), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
- Symptoms can include pain, swelling, fever, and fluid leaking from the urethra.
- The most common treatment is antibiotic medicine.
- A sexually active teen and their
partner should not have sex until both have been treated and no longer have
- If not treated, epididymitis can become chronic. This means inflammation, pain, and
other symptoms don’t go away.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- At the visit, write down the name of a
new diagnosis and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new
instructions your provider gives you for your child.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child.
Also know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose
for that visit.
- Know how you can contact your child’s
provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have
questions or need advice.