How does mumps affect male fertility?
Mumps is a viral infection and typically, it affects one or both of the salivary glands (also referred to as the parotid glands) situated in the upper neck, beneath the ears. Mumps arrives with fever, headache, body ache, fatigue and eventually causes the glands to become tender and visibly inflamed. Mumps usually affects children and teenagers, although certain adults with low immunity may also contract the disease.
This viral infection lasts for about a week or 10 days and requires no particular treatment. Since it is caused by a virus, it gets better with rest and time.
Do Mumps Affect Male Infertility?
Mumps can sometimes affect other glands in the body, namely the nervous system and the testicles. The most common complication of mumps is testicular inflammation. This inflammatory condition, medically called orchitis, affects boys (who have been through puberty) or adults. Orchitis generally affects just one testicle but can affect both testicles in about 1 in 6 men. This is the reason why mumps causes male infertility.
Orchitis caused due to mumps becomes noticeable in the first week of contracting the disease. The scrotum swells up causing intense pain and the scrotal skin turns red in colour indicating infection. Pain usually disappears within 5 days but there could be testicular shrinkage. Studies suggest that anti-sperm antibodies may be the factor that negatively impacts male fertility in such cases.
The Bottom Line
Although majority cases of mumps will not result in testicular inflammation, it should be pointed out that the contraction of mumps has been increasing all over the world. This could be because of the shortages of vaccine and problems related to vaccines faced in the 90's.
If you have been diagnosed with mumps-induced orchitis, the risk of fertility is reasonably low and permanent infertility is very unlikely. However, if you are concerned about the possibility of being affected with orchitis or unsure of having had the vaccine, consult a doctor.