Epididymitis is the acute or chronic inflammation of the epididymis (a structure that is found in the back of the testicle and is responsible for storing and transporting sperm), although it can also affect the vas deferens (deferentitis) and the testicle (Epididymo-orchitis). We will speak of acute Epididymo-orchitis if the process lasts less than 6 weeks and chronic if it is greater.
This pathology is more frequent in young men between 19 and 35 years of age. Generally, epididymitis is caused by the spread of a bacterial infection. The infection often begins in the urethra, prostate, or bladder.
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia infections are almost always the cause of the problem in sexually active young men. Also, in children and older men, the most common cause of epididymitis is E. coli and similar bacteria. Other bacteria that cause epididymitis are Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Ureaplasma.
Sometimes epididymitis is not caused by a bacterial infection but by a viral infection (such as cytomegalovirus infection) or fungal infection (actinomycosis, blastomycosis). Also, amiodarone (antiarrhythmic drug) has possible side effects for epididymitis.
Factors that increase the risk of epididymitis are the following:
- Recent surgery.
- Past structural problems in the urinary tract.
- Frequent use of a urinary catheter (usually secondary to structural problems or surgery).
- Sex with more than one partner and not using a condom.
- Prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate).