Q&A: What Is Epididymitis? Is It Contagious?

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QUESTION: My boyfriend has epididymitis and it was in his left testicle then it went to his right, and I want to know if it is contagious and or whether I have it? I looked it up on the internet and I have no symptoms at all.

The term “epididymitis” refers to an infection or an inflammation of a part of men’s bodies that is called the epididymis.

The Epididymis

The epididymis is a tubular structure located behind each of a man’s testicles. It plays an important role in male reproduction and sexuality as it is involved in the storage, maturation and transportation of sperm.

Various types of bacteria can cause problems in a man’s reproductive tract. When this happens to the epididymis, a man may feel soreness, irritation or swelling in his scrotum or specifically around his testicles (which are inside his scrotum). He may even have a fever. Sometimes men feel the soreness or swelling in one testicle; other times it is felt around both testicles.

Possibly Sexually Transmitted

The bacteria that cause the infection and inflammation may be sexually transmitted or they may not. Two sexually transmissible infections (STIs) that sometimes cause epididymitis are chlamydia and gonorrhea.

While a man cannot transmit epididymitis itself to a sexual partner (whether his partner is a man or a woman), he certainly can transmit bacterial infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhea to his partner, if either of these infections are what has caused his particular case of epididymitis.

Check In With Your Healthcare Provider

Men who have bothersome genital symptoms or who have been diagnosed with epididymitis should ask their healthcare provider about being tested for STIs. Women and men whose partners have epididymitis might also ask their healthcare provider about being checked for STIs.

That said, it is important to remember that not all cases of epididymitis are caused by STI, and that a range of other types of bacteria are linked to epididymitis too. In addition, sometimes the cause of epididymitis cannot be determined. If you have any questions about your own personal sexual health, please do check in with your healthcare provider.

Kinsey Confidential

is a service of The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. Sexual health experts answer your questions and provide newspaper columns and weekly podcasts.
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