How can Mumps cause Infection of the Testes?


What are Mumps and What Causes Them?

Mumps is a viral infection caused by a virus called Paramyxovirus. It causes symptoms of viral infection, including fever, fatigue, and muscle pain. This virus infects a pair of salivary glands (parotid glands) found in the cheek, near the ear. Swelling in either of these glands gives people with Mumps virus a prominent swelling of the cheeks. Mumps can infect people of all age groups, but younger adults are most commonly affected by it. Mumps is a highly contagious disease, and it spreads via saliva or respiratory droplets of the infected person. This is called direct transmission of the virus, and anyone close to the infected person is highly likely to contract it as well.


How does Mumps spread to the Testes?

Once the Mumps virus has entered the host body, it will multiply in the respiratory tract and mainly affect the Parotid glands, as discussed above. The symptoms usually stay limited to these glands only, and the disease resolves on its own without any treatment. But if the disease persists, it may cause complications in other parts of the body, like coverings of the brain, pancreas, and testes.

One-fourth of the infected males in the post-puberty age complain of swelling and pain in the testicles caused by the Mumps virus. While it may resolve on its own in some cases, anyone experiencing symptoms should take it seriously.

Image courtesy: OpenStax, and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License v4.0 (Wikipedia)

What are the complications of Testes infection?

Testes are male gonads. Gonads are where reproductive cells are made, and in this case, sperms. Any pathology of the gonads can result in a huge risk of developing infertility. Painful swelling of the testes caused as a result of Mumps complication can cause Testicular atrophy. Testicular atrophy is the shrinkage of the testes, and it occurs as a consequence of pressure put on the testicular tissue by the swelling. This shrinkage can result in reduced production of sperms and male reproductive cells, with chances of leading to infertility. The inflammation of the testes, known as orchitis, should not be taken lightly. Patients must undergo symptomatic treatment.

preventative measure

What can be done for the prevention of Mumps?

There is no treatment available for Mumps, but you can prevent one from getting it, and the best way to prevent Mumps disease is through vaccination. The Mumps vaccine is now included as part of regular vaccinations received at birth. Doctors prescribe these in combination with Measles and Rubella. The vaccine is called the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

A single dose of MMR vaccine is not enough for an individual to be immunized against Mumps, and a second booster dose is necessary. The first vaccination dose is given when the child is 12 to 15 months old, while the booster dose is given when they are 4 to 6 years of age. If someone has not received their complete vaccination schedule during childhood, they need to receive it before traveling internationally or in a high-risk region.

The prevalence of Mumps disease has greatly reduced since the discovery of this vaccine. However, news is still reporting new outbreaks as the vaccine is still new. Despite not getting the vaccine, most people only get Mumps once in a lifetime as they develop natural immunity against it.

Road ahead

Final Thoughts

Mumps is usually not considered a very serious infection and is self-limiting. However, it can develop serious complications at times, which may lead to male infertility later on in life. This is why responsible parents make sure that their children are vaccinated for mumps when advised to do so by their pediatrician.

Disclaimer: This blog post is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to replace the guidance of your physician. Please consult a medical professional if you have any concerns after reading this or other blog posts on this website.