This article is being written for those who suffer from chronic epididymitis but haven’t found an answer as to what is causing it. Chronic epididymitis can be defined as symptoms of discomfort and/or pain at least 3 months in duration in the scrotum, testicle, or epididymis localized to one or each epididymis.
The ideal reader for this article would have:
- Already been to at least a couple of doctors for this condition
- Tested negative for known bacterial infections
- Eventually been turned away (no infection, all in your head, nothing I can do, etc).
- Tried antibiotics that the doctor provided but they failed.
- Been suffering for at least three months.
If this sounds like you, then you’re likely going to get quite a bit out of this. If this doesn’t sound like you, and you are just now trying to figure out epididymitis, let me redirect you to another article I wrote on the topic called Epididymitis Recovery Protocol.
Note: If you feel as though you are dealing with an emergency, go get help immediately and don’t rely on internet searches in place of “competent” medical advice.
Let’s begin. Let’s start with the idea that you are not alone. More than 600,000 men are dealing with some type of testicle pain each year in the United States alone. Of course, the cause varies. Sadly enough, in many cases, doctors seem baffled that they can’t diagnose this in five minutes and in too many cases, cures are not found. As a result, men are left to suffer. However, sometimes this condition doesn’t act like a bacterial infection. If you ask me, this might explain why so many antibiotics are not working. Well, guess what? It shouldn’t take a genius to suggest that we might want to start looking for a different answer.
Be aware that this article will be a little long but I’m going to provide you with PLENTY of studies to support what I’m saying. I’m going to write this in a conversational tone and I’ll do my best to remove jargon and complex medical terms so that everyone can be on the same page. The links provided will be to the literature or products that I’m talking about. But I’m also going to detail out quite a bit here and you will want to examine and perhaps read it a few times. I want you to have a thorough understanding of the situation and the potential cause.
So let’s talk for a moment about what we DO know about the condition.
- I want to start with the fact that chronic epididymitis HAS NOT been investigated as thoroughly as acute epididymitis. This tells us right off of the bat that doctors don’t know near enough about the condition as they could. It’s likely because the condition hasn’t been known to kill you right away, so why bother? Ironically, that’s also our first clue.
- Most cases of acute epididymitis are caused by bacterial infection from a urinary tract infection or a sexually transmissible infection (STI) such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. This is why you want to rule these out first. But when you do… then what?
- Chronic epididymitis may present only with pain (or so they think). Many times, doctors will test and test (using standard tests) and they just can’t find the bacteria responsible for the infection. As a result, they will tell you that no infection is present. And if they have gone ahead and tested for mycoplasma and ureaplasma, then perhaps no bacterial infection is present. But what about OTHER infections?
- Chronic epididymitis develops slowly. However, I want you to understand that “slowly” is a relative term. I also want you to understand that it really depends on the circumstances. Sometimes the infection starts rapidly, but its progression into the epididymis is slow. I wanted to say this just to point out that every situation is going to be different and you need to be careful about the things you accept about this condition.
- Chronic epididymitis might be confused with chronic orchitis (pain in the testicle).
A Little Background
Since I wrote the article “Epididymitis Recovery Protocol” back in 2015, I have had numerous men reach out to me for clarity and help. This is a big part of why that article has been updated so much. However, this has been an amazing thing because thanks to the hundreds of men willing to share their stories, I have been able to establish some interesting commonalities among quite a few of them. The shocking part for me was that most of these men had very similar stories. The common elements were…
- Unprotected sex (usually oral) with a partner dealing with “a cold” or chest infection
- It started with slight to moderate discomfort or pain in the urethra
- Semen eventually changed color to variants of yellow or green
- Testicle Pain (usually) on one side (right or left)
- Repeated tests show negative for STD/STI’s
- The pain progressed and seemingly unrelated symptoms occurred
Sure, sometimes the details of their stories varied but these are all very important clues. Yet, somehow they are missed as a package. Granted, not ALL chronic epididymitis is the result of a pathogen and this is something to keep in mind moving forward. Sometimes it’s injury, chemical or something else that we don’t know about yet. However, when symptoms begin to mount, it’s not something you should ignore. When it is a pathogen causing it and if left alone for too long, some advanced infections can present with the following:
- Fever or hot flashes
- Occasional or consistent cloudy urine
- Roaming pain in the legs or back
- A hard spot or strange deformity on the shaft that sometimes turns into Peyronie’s disease
- Skin ulcers or lesions
- Gastrointestinal issues
Some men suffer for years with zero answers. This is unfortunate but clearly, the right questions are not being asked. Understand that you cannot address a problem unless you identify the problem and you will rarely get the right answers if you’re not asking the right questions.
Let me say that my goal in writing this isn’t to cure you. Instead, I want to help you rule out or confirm something that is affecting many men and something many doctors are simply unaware of. I also want to provide you the opportunity to play a much bigger role in your health and your healthcare advocacy. REMEMBER: YOU are your biggest advocate. I believe that for some, this will be an amazing opportunity to finally play that role.
Let me also state emphatically that the information provided herein, will not be the answer for everyone and that this article will not be able to cover everything this topic deserves. I’m just trying to give you some ideas to work with. My hope is that enough men will come forward to their doctors and force the change accordingly. That being said, nature is a complex beast and the things that impact one will not necessarily be the thing that impacts others. I present this as merely something to consider in your quest for resolution. Please take it for what it’s worth. I am not a medical doctor, a lab technician, or any other kind of medical professional. I’m just a guy in the world trying to help out the desperate.
The Medical Doctors Have Few Answers
Clearly. So you’ve tested negative for the known… now you’re probably going to have to look for the unknown. When standard tests cannot provide a definitive answer, when there is no foul smell, and when antibiotics fail, you and your doctor are left feeling helpless. Your doctor wants to help but your doctor doesn’t know what your doctor doesn’t know. Does this sound familiar?
It’s not their fault though so please try to be understanding. However, just because your doctor doesn’t know, doesn’t mean that you’re not being attacked by something. I need you to understand that. Recognize that pain is the way our bodies communicate a problem with us. We should be listening to it.
So let’s ask ourselves some questions. What kind of infection doesn’t want to kill you? Or better yet, what kind of bacterial infection doesn’t show up on tests? What kind of bacterial infection doesn’t act like a bacterial infection? It sounds a lot like a parasite to me.
The biggest issue that I see here is that microscopic ova and parasite examination (O&P) is the “standard” method for parasite testing. From there, you could use other tests but the problem here is that not only is the O&P is labor-intensive, it requires a high level of skill for optimal interpretation. Not that it matters because ultimately, this test will be looking in the wrong place (your stool). So perhaps your doctor could look manually? Well, there is a good chance that your doctor doesn’t even own a microscope.
What this ultimately means is that a great number of people are going to continue to suffer because this particular test remains the cornerstone of diagnostic testing for parasites. All this to say that it’s pretty hard to test positive for something or even cure something if your doctor doesn’t know what or how to look for it. Scary but true.
Let me reiterate something from my previous article:
These infections can sometimes have similar symptoms to bacterial infections but will not respond to standard treatments or tests… and they can provide a variety of confusing symptoms.
The NCBI posted a report in 2018 “Evidence for Previously Unidentified Sexual Transmission of Protozoan Parasites” and said, “we identify 5 protozoan parasites with demonstrated presence in seminal fluid, only 1 of which has been identified as a sexually transmitted disease among humans.”
The kicker here is that all of these were found in seminal fluid and all of them shouldn’t have been there. Specifically, these were Entamoeba hystolytica, Schistosoma haematobium, Trichomonas vaginalis, Trypanosoma cruzi, and Toxoplasma gondii. Keep in mind that these are just what they found during the course of this study and it did not account for the others that are likely impacting so many undiagnosed men.
To give you a better idea, protozoan infections in the male genital tract have been known about since at least the 1990’s when such infections were identified to include Trichomonas vaginalis, Trypanosoma species, Leishmania donovani, Entamoeba histolytica, Acanthamoeba species, Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium falciparum to name a few. While seemingly rare, it is something that needs to be considered.
A lot of doctors are simply not up to speed when it comes to protozoa and parasitic infection. In fact, it is estimated that millions of people in the United States are currently infected with some kind of parasite and don’t even know it. This might have to do with the fact that many of the well-known parasitic diseases occur in tropical regions and doctors just don’t know what to look for because they’re not used to seeing them in their area. Almost ironically, the CDC has been unsuccessfully attempting to increase awareness among physicians and the public about such diseases, attempting to gather usable data, improve testing methods and of course, successfully treat them. Unfortunately, too many physicians are still completely unaware of the variety of ways such disease can spread to or otherwise impact their patients. In a somewhat scary revelation, the CDC has even coined the term “Neglected Parasitic Infections (NPIs)” which are a group of parasitic diseases that are often ignored or overlooked. This doesn’t include the unknown/un-reported/un-diagnosed.
Let me add to the perspective. There are more than 50,000 species of parasites that have been properly identified. Granted, not all of these are dangerous to humans but we need to recognize that protozoa are found in almost every possible habitat and that habitat CAN include us. The truth is that we are learning new things about these guys every day. A big part of what we are learning is that protozoal infections can be a big problem. In fact, they are among the most common life-threatening secondary infections in patients with HIV. Adding to this mess is that many protozoan parasites are actually infected with viruses which can lead to inflammatory complications – even in otherwise healthy humans.
Protozoa can affect the respiratory system, be found in the human oral cavity, be foodborne and be sexually transmitted. Some men that report epididymitis symptoms do so after having received oral sex. If your partner ate something contaminated, had some kind of undiagnosed upper-respiratory infection caused by protozoa or was simply a carrier of some otherwise harmless protozoa (such as those found in cats), this might explain a potential exposure. Of course, parasites can also invade the intestine and vagina so really almost any kind of unprotected sex can provide an opportunity for exposure – even if considered rare. To be clear: just because a parasite doesn’t “normally” cause a problem, doesn’t mean it “can’t“.
Protozoa have been known to impact the male urethra, prostate, and epididymis. This very well could account for the symptoms and location of your symptoms. One should pay particularly close attention to the activities and potential exposure leading up to symptom realization. Don’t discount this possibility just because it’s “rare“
Many of the antibiotics that are effective in inhibiting bacteria are not going to be active against parasites. This could account for many of the treatment failures if you have happened to be infected. Only antiprotozoal drugs and related antimicrobials will be of any use. This is similar to how antibiotics will not work on viruses or fungi. Specific bugs require specific weapons.
Most standard tests are simply NOT looking for parasites. Testing for unknown parasites usually requires highly complex procedures. Due to this complexity, most parasites will be overlooked in the initial testing process. As a result, those infected will likely test negative for disease with standard tests and doctors are usually not trained up enough to take it to the next level. You may have to ask for it.
Some parasitic infections can last for months or even years. This can definitely account for the seemingly chronic state of the infection. Additionally, protozoa specifically are very diverse in regard to gram-positive and gram-negative and both aerobic and anaerobic… only adding to the complexity of testing and treatment.
Making things worse, protozoa can cause a variety of symptoms that are seemingly unrelated to the original infection. Unfortunately, many doctors who are unaware of this and see negative test results in the face of symptoms will encourage their patients to seek mental help or drugs – believing it is simply in their heads. However, if appropriate treatment is not achieved, over an extended period of time, cellular hypersensitivity will likely be observed and even lesions can sometimes appear due to cell-mediated immune response. Not to scare you but various protozoa are known to dissolve the host’s tissues. Keep an eye out for this.
Keep in mind that protozoa usually proliferate within the body but helminths generally do not. As a result, protozoa can be a real struggle to treat if you are not accurate with your treatments. Reinfection can (and seemingly often does) occur even if it’s properly identified and treated. On the other hand, while helminth infections tend to be one and done treatment, we must remember that helminths can infect every organ and organ system and that sometimes people go for many years without symptoms. No matter which way you look at it, we need to take these invaders quite seriously.
Can This Really Be A Parasitic Infection?
Yes! And that’s because protozoa are really good at “evading or subverting your innate and adaptive immune responses.“ As I have alluded to, when it comes to parasites, it’s not just protozoa that we need to look out for. Like protozoa, helminths such as flatworms (flukes and tapeworms), nematodes or even roundworms can also find their way to places they shouldn’t be and they are all really good at “subverting immune surveillance“ as well. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples to express the point.
According to Urologia International (Urol Int 2008;81:1–13), the seminal vesicles are often involved in Schistosomiasis infections. Additionally, epididymitis and orchitis can occur and can provide a stricture of the urethra which may be palpable, simulating Peyronie’s disease. Schistosomiasis infections also present genital skin lesions and obvious alteration in semen color and consistency.
The be clear, Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by trematode flatworms. In men, urogenital schistosomiasis can induce pathology of the seminal vesicles, prostate, and other organs. Wow! Right? Well, it gets better.
In the International braz j urol 30(5):413-5 · October 2004 – they speak of a pretty bad case of Epididymitis. They describe the case of a Caucasian 32-year old man, “who presented scrotal pain for 3 months, with difficult management with medication. Testis was normal; however, the left epididymis was extremely painful and hardened. Following the unsuccessful use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication, a left epididymectomy was performed, with resolution of the pain. The pathological examination showed the presence of chronic inflammatory process associated with eggs of the parasite Schistosoma mansoni in the resected epididymis. Patient evolved without pain in the post-operative period and was medicated with a single dose of oxamniquine after etiologic confirmation.“
Something to note is that the WHO (World Health Organization) warned in 2013 that the snails that carry schistosomiasis were projected to invade new territory in Europe and the Americas in the coming years. At that time, it was estimated that schistosomiasis had already affected at least 8,000 people in the United States. Many health professionals still don’t know this.
Something to also note is that of the five fluke species that account for most human cases, schistosomiasis is the only species known to infect the genitourinary system. Let me reiterate the word “known” though and remind everyone that there is plenty that is still unknown. However, that’s not a bad place to start when it comes to helminths and conditions like the one you are looking up. Of course… this is just one example to express the point. In fact, none of these are suggestions of specific parasites you might have. Instead, I’m simply demonstrating the possibility.
So How Could This Happen?
Be aware that many medical professionals still believe that some of these parasites CANNOT be passed from human to human directly. This will be a challenge for you. Just know that scientists seem to think otherwise. In fact, I have seen quite a bit that leads me to side with the scientists. And furthermore, you would have a hard time selling that to the men who have had the “opportunity” of feeling these things creep down their urethra after spending some intimate time with another human.
My working theory on this is simple. The mucosal surfaces of the body serve as the entry point for a wide variety of protozoan and helminthic parasites. For that matter, most parasitic infections of the mucosal surfaces are acquired orally. Digging a little deeper, we know that some helminth infections (for example) have a “lung phase” and that there is a broad spectrum of protozoal parasites that frequently affects the respiratory system; particularly the lungs. The scary part is that for otherwise healthy people, many of these infections are generally asymptomatic.
So basically, if the host isn’t aware that they have the parasite in their lungs, mouth or throat, and/or they have what appears to be an upper respiratory tract infection, then they will likely shrug it off as a slight cold but still be coughing a lot… which could potentially bring the eggs and larvae to the throat and mouth in abundance and in a perfect substrate (mucus and saliva). Since the host can pass the parasite infection via mucosal surfaces, and the mouth, lungs, and urethra have mucous membranes, then while it may not be “normal” it would most definitely have to be possible that transmission could occur via oral sex when the body is better prepared for fluid exchange. Again, this is just a working theory.
Of course, the only reason I’m calling it a theory at the moment is that this mode of transmission hasn’t been proven definitively by medical science yet (that I know of). At the very least, it’s not exactly common knowledge at this point. Still, there is evidence to support this theory. In fact, I have reviewed hundreds of various peer-reviewed journal entries that have helped guide me to this theory. What follows are just a few of the many. Again, while rare, we must see that it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE and attention should definitely be paid.
In the Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2014 Jul 2; 91(1): 89–91, they describe the case of a 25-year-old healthy man with intermittent bilateral testicular pain and swelling. The biopsies in both testicles revealed the presence of a dead filarial parasite Wuchereria bancrofti.
Posted on BMJ, an entry titled “Genital manifestations of tropical diseases, Sexually Transmitted Infections”( 2004;80:12-17), they talk about genital symptoms caused by protozoal, and helminthic infections which are not usually sexually transmitted. They say that symptoms may mimic classic sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by producing ulceration (for example, amoebiasis, leishmaniasis), or lesions of the upper genital tract (epididymo-orchitis caused by tuberculosis, leprosy, and brucellosis; salpingitis as a result of tuberculosis, amoebiasis, and schistosomiasis).
In Emerg Infect Dis. 2018 Mar; 24(3): 602–603, they suggest that more parasitic infections that what we currently know about might also be transmitted sexually, stating “Considering that parasitic diseases represent one of the most common infections worldwide, mainly in developing countries, sexual transmission of parasitic diseases could represent a major global problem in terms of public health.” They go on to say that “E. hystolitica has been identified in the testicles, epididymis, and seminal fluid, can reportedly cause infertility as a result of reproductive organ damage, and is transmitted by sexual contact (both oral-anal and oral-genital sexual practices).”
According to Dr. W. Steven Pray, PhD, DPh, Bernhardt Professor of Nonprescription Drugs and Devices, at the College of Pharmacy, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford (US Pharm. 2006;12:10-15), Ectopic Enterobiasis (a pinworm) infestation in males may cause urethritis or epididymitis.
These go on and on. What I pull from all of this (generally speaking) is that there are plenty of “discoveries” that happen in regard to parasites, they can be transmitted oral to genital, these are much more common infections than previously thought, the infections mimic other known diseases and manifest a variety of symptoms, and they can cause a lot of damage. And here we are.
Then there is the real-world side of it. We see guy after guy, story after story, picture after picture that show that perhaps the majority of the medical community has missed something significant. Furthermore, if it’s “possible” in one case, it has to be “possible” in others. Clearly, there is something to it. Of course, these are just things to consider. KEEP YOUR MIND OPEN! Remember that humanity has been fighting these little guys for centuries and these guys are improving their tactics all of the time.
Don’t Be Ashamed or Mad!
Let me stop right here and make something absolutely and abundantly clear. If this happens to be your situation, it does not mean that you or your partner are dirty or gross or anything like that. Parasites are sneaky and find their way into our lives in a variety of ways. In my book “The Briobiotic Protocol“, I wrote:
Many medical professionals such as Dr. Oz have said that 90 percent of humans will have a problem with parasites in their lifetime (Oz, 2006), and suggests that approximately 1 out of 3 Americans are infected with an intestinal parasite at any given time (Oz, 2013). Of course, that number is just intestinal parasites; this does not include the many other types of parasites.Natural Health Made Easy: The Briobiotic Protocol (Parasites)
In fact, before we continue, I want you to go to Google News. Type in the word “parasites” into the search bar and hit “search“. I just did it and there are tons of stories about parasites that are contracted from things like having a cat, swimming in a pool and eating fish from California (ironic) and so on.
The point I want to stress here is that you shouldn’t take this out on your partner. The chances are good that they simply didn’t (and likely still don’t) know. That’s how parasites work and that’s why they survive. To provide some extra perspective here, I could have you read a couple of articles. The first is called “CDC warns of common parasites plaguing millions in U.S.” which is an article written back in 2014. The second is “Millions of Americans Have a Parasite and Don’t Realize It” which was written in 2018. Both of these talk about roughly FIVE parasites that millions upon millions of people have but likely don’t know about it. That’s FIVE… out of countless others. It’s just something that happens.
What Can My Medical Doctor Do?
My gut response to this question is rather snarky but the first thing your doctor needs to do is to listen to you and be willing to learn. I want you to fully understand that getting answers for this will be a struggle due in great part to your doctor’s ignorance. Well, that and our broken medical system. For example, technically, you’re likely dealing with an infectious disease. However, infectious disease clinics will ONLY see someone with a provider referral and (usually) ONLY if the appropriate tests are already done to confirm parasites and eggs.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of doctors are unaware of the potential of these types of parasitic infections and are simply not equipped to search these things out anyway. Additionally, urology clinics do not have a way to test for the parasites or eggs, so when your primary care provider admits that this condition is not in their wheelhouse, they will probably send you to a urologist that is equally incapable of helping you. So when the urologist doesn’t find anything, he will likely try to tell you that it’s in your head or that it’s a chronic condition that you’ll just have to live with. Meanwhile, the infectious disease doctors and the parasitologists don’t get the chance to even try.
I want you to remember that if standard tests continue to provide negative results and if the antibiotics your doctor has provided so far don’t work, then other things need to be considered. It’s that simple. Now, if you have a good relationship with your doctor, you can ask your doctor about running one or more of the following tests:
- Ultrasound (looking for either parasites or abnormalities)
- Macro/microscopic analysis of tissue samples
- Parasite antigen detection
- Parasite DNA/RNA
- Host antibody detection
However, these tests are likely going to be expensive and your doctor will likely tell you “No” until you can prove that it’s necessary. I suspect that the denial of such tests really has more to do with their ignorance than your need though. You also need to know that your doctor may be a little bias and will likely not want to be schooled by you. They might even deny the possibility because you haven’t traveled to some distant destination. Or, they may deny the possibility because they are still operating under the assumption that parasites can’t spread the way you have implied they did.
The point is that you may need to find a different doctor. However, don’t make the appointment yet. You’ve got some work to do before you make the appointment.
I should probably inform you of the following because there are a few problems that contribute to your doctor’s lack of understanding.
- Many doctors (especially in the United States) are not taught that parasites can be that big of an issue. In fact, some doctors believe it’s “impossible”. Minus a few that are well known, parasites are often the neglected “pathogen”… unless it comes to food or your pets. This is a bad approach considering about half of the planet’s organisms are parasitic. Of course, we need to worry about parasites!
- Most doctors are not motivated to look under a microscope themselves. This is just sad. Of course, many doctors don’t even know how to culture bacteria anymore so what should we expect?
- Even if they were motivated to look, many wouldn’t know what they were looking at or looking for. That’s usually not their job. Their job is to prescribe drugs and get to the next patient.
- Most offices don’t even have a microscope anyway. They send their samples off to a lab that looks for what the doctor told them to look for. So if the doctor doesn’t know what to look for, neither will the lab in many cases – unless they were lucky enough to stumble upon it.
- Many labs wouldn’t look at your sample under the microscope. They are testing for bacteria such as STI’s. Much of modern science has become reliant on various tests that do not require the physical examination of a sample. Very few in the medical field actual look under a microscope after graduation.
And people wonder why so many suffer from chronic illness. YOU NEED TO PERSONALLY TAKE ACTION!
What Can I Do?
Well, now you get to go to work. I know it would be nice if the person you were paying for medical help would do this but the reality is that you’re sitting here reading this article and your doctor has all but forgotten about you as they sleep soundly at night believing that they are doing God’s work.
Like I said, testing for parasites is tough and usually expensive. Thankfully, finding them yourself… is actually a lot easier than you might think. This is why it aggravates me that more doctors are not looking. The good news is that if you happen to find them, you can show them to your doctor, your doctor can have them tested, and you can get the appropriate treatment. Hopefully.
Again, it’s not entirely the doctor’s fault. I’m cynical because of how messed up the situation is. Understand that there are parasites they don’t even have tests for. This has a lot to do with the fact that they still know so little about them. And this is not to say that I’m some sort of an expert because I’m not – not by a long shot. However, I am the one writing this article so perhaps I’m just willing to look at the question differently. Take it for what it’s worth.
In order to figure out whether you are dealing with parasites or not, you’re going to need a few things. I will do my best to help guide you through this process and I will provide some recommendations along the way to try and help you save some time and money. Remember that these are just recommendations though. I’m not your doctor or your father so you’re going to have to make some decisions here. There are better options than what I’m going to share and there are lesser ones.
Also understand that we are not going to be doing some of the fancy things that many medical labs will do – like heat-fixing, gram staining and so on. We are literally just going to be looking for clues.
What Do I Need?
You’ll need a few things if you want to do this even close to right. I’ll provide you the details of what you’ll need and a suggestion about the actual product via a link in each heading. The link will be to Amazon so you can see and read about each product suggestion and decide for yourself if that suggestion is right for you.
- You need a microscope with at least 1000X power. Be reluctant about non-traditional microscopes and be careful not to buy a toy. Also, make sure you do your homework on what the microscope can and cannot see. A decent, yet relatively inexpensive option is the National Optical 40X-1000X Compound Microscope Set.
- You’ll want to take pictures. Remember that you are building a case here so you’ll want the photographic evidence. There are microscope attachments that can be bought to help take pictures with your phone. These are relatively inexpensive. An example of this might be found in this Cell Phone Adapter Mount. This is definitely NOT the best one out there but with a little creativity, you can make it work just fine.
- You need some 3ml Disposable Transfer Pipettes. The pipettes can be used a number of different ways but these will be used to help transfer the sample onto the slide while reducing the chance of contamination.
- You need Pre-Cleaned Blank Microscope Slides and Coverslips Cover Glass. These are what you will put the samples on and use with your microscope.
- You need some sterile alcohol wipes. These will help clean various things to reduce contamination and cross-contamination. These will also be used during sample collection.
- You need some sterile specimen cups. The sterile cups ensure that there are not currently microorganisms in whatever you would otherwise collect your samples in. Plus, if you find a lot of parasites, you could literally just slap the lid on your collection cup and send it straight to the doctor or lab. If you plan on observing for several weeks, you may want to order two or three sets.
- You will probably WANT some Powder-Free Nitrile Exam Gloves. This process can get a little messy at times and I doubt you want it all over your hands.
Then finally, you’ll need a clean place to work. Contamination and cross-contamination can be a problem so make the extra effort to ensure a clean workplace. Cleaning products like alcohol or diluted bleach will be best and treating your area as though it were a real lab will go a long way.
Another tip here might be to ensure that you have a smooth, vibration-free, dust-free, and easily cleaned benchtop to put your microscope on.
How Do I Do It?
Set up your observation area. Ensure that everything is flat and that you have plenty of room to put things. Ensure that the area you are working in is clean. I often recommend placing plastic wrap over the table. It’s easy enough to just tape the edges. This ensures that your samples are not getting all over the table and that cleanup is much easier if you have a spill.
Once your observation area is ready, you can set up your microscope and materials. Have all of your tools at the ready because you will need them at various times. Now you need to collect the samples.
NOTE: Always take extra steps to ensure that you are clean and that your work station is clean. Have I said that enough yet?
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water first.
- Clean the head of the penis with a sterile wipe.
Ejaculate into the sterile cup trying hard to ensure that your skin is not scraped by the edges of the cup. Place the cap on the cup and set it in a warm (not hot) spot for about 30 minutes or so. NOTE: I have seen some recommendations suggest upwards of 48 hours. This might be something to play around with.
Remember that semen changes consistency with time and temp. We are looking for an easy way to put it on the slide. A thick glob is probably just going to dirty your equipment. Also, incubate your sample at a temp somewhere close to 99.5 degrees F.
When you’re ready to observe, you will use a pipette to pull a little material from the sample cup and place one drop on the slide. Cover your sample with the slide cover and you’re ready to look. Some of your samples will likely seep out to the edge of the slide cover. That’s okay because there is still plenty to see between the cover and the slide itself.
Then you’re ready to observe under the scope. It’s going to take some practice and you’re likely not going to get it right on the first try. You’re going to have to play around with it and experiment a little. It’s sort of like a science class in high school.
Observing semen is pretty straight forward. You will likely see your little guys swimming around and of course, that’s normal. You’re looking for discolored blobs, worms, and egg-like shapes. These tend to stick out. Keep in mind that you should only collect these samples once a week. You want to “build up” between observations. Also, you’ll want to do this over several weeks or months; collecting many images. You’re looking for consistency over time.
Sometimes I recommend looking at urine but urine is sort of complex. Urine will carry cast cells, crystals and even red and white blood cells. If you decide to do this, know that these artifacts are usually easy to identify and a simple Google search will help clear that up for you. Just like the semen though, we are looking for eggs and parasites.
Play around the microscope settings. It will likely take you a couple of weeks before you start producing great photos. That’s okay. You will be learning a lot with each attempt. Remember “small movements“. I would recommend from here would be to play with the “depth” of your scope. A lot of people make the mistake of finding a setting and keeping it there. Don’t do this. You would be amazed at how much depth there is between the slide and cover.
Something else I would suggest is to examine at least 5 slides per observation period. Again, you want to solidify the consistency of artifacts. Remember that each slide essentially represents one single drop. If you examine five to ten drops, then you are essentially looking at about 0.05ml per slide from what is essentially over 3.7ml per sample. It’s not a lot. BUT… look at it this way. If you’re seeing something on each slide… that’s significant and it provides great insight. Yes… it’s a bit more time consuming but it’s time well spent.
What Am I Looking For?
You’ll likely spend a lot of time in the 400X-1000X range but you’re looking for things that don’t look like they belong there. Specifically, you’re looking for things that look like worms, ovals/eggs, or little monsters. You know what sperm looks like, so if it doesn’t belong there… you’ll likely know when you see it and you’ll want to take photographs of these things. Below are just a few examples of what could be lurking inside. Of course, a simple Google search would show you many more if you search for protozoa or helminths.
Simply stated, these things don’t belong in semen or urine. If you see things that look like these, you’re on to something. Now, you may not find something like any of these… but you might. And yes, these look very scary but there are actually some very effective treatments available for parasites – both drugs and natural remedies. So don’t get too worked about all of this quite yet.
Can I Really Do This Myself?
Yes. Absolutely you can. In fact, let me show you some actual pictures of what some of the guys have found.
Note: The following photographs are taken by amateurs using “affordable” microscopes. The identification of the artifacts shown has NOT been acquired. Also note that sometimes, artifacts such as fibers and hairs can be mistaken for worms.
And these are just a few of the many things found from guys who had the same story. As you can see, clearly medical practice is missing something rather significant because many guys are finding things that don’t belong there. Granted, I don’t know what all of these are but I’m not sure that’s the point at this stage of the game. If you find something like this, you have something to take to your doctor and that’s exactly what you need right now.
Are you wondering why so many images can be produced but so many doctors don’t seem to know much about this? I am too. You’re not alone. But again, it’s pretty hard to find something if you refuse to look.
So What If I Find Something?
Once you’ve collected plenty of photographs of your little friends (again, over a period of time – about 2 or 3 months), then it’s time to put together your report. Detail your medical history (including dates), when and how you think you got this infection, the photographs you’ve taken, doctors you’ve seen, tests you’ve had, drugs you’ve taken and anything else you can think of.
Once your report is complete, it’s time to go back to the doctor with your evidence. It’s going to take people like you to find these things and show your doctor since so many doctors don’t even know this is a problem.
NOTE: If you feel that the doctor you were seeing wouldn’t be open to your findings, then I would definitely seek out a different urologist, infectious disease doctor or medical parasitologist… with the parasitologist being the preference.
The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene provides a pretty decent list of physicians who offer clinical consultative service in Tropical Medicine, Medical Parasitology and Travelers’ Health. They may be a little out of their element when it comes to your specific condition but they might also have some great ideas considering their background.
By the way, if you choose to store the slides, then know that the slides should be kept horizontal (flat) with the specimen side up. Don’t stack slides on top of one another or apply pressure to the cover glass and make sure they are stored in a clean (preferably sterile) container. There are storage boxes for slides out there. It seems unnecessary for our purposes so I’m not even going to recommend one. If it were me, I would simply freeze the sample in the sample cup.
Let me also warn you in advance that your doctor might be a little shocked. Your doctor may also admit that they don’t know much about it. In fact, your doctor may want to send the pictures or samples off to someone at the CDC or some other lab. You should let them because as I have stated before, the CDC has been trying to do something about parasites for a while now but it’s the doctors that won’t listen. Your input will not only help educate the doctor but it will help the CDC spread awareness. The more men that present this kind of information to their doctor, the more other men out there can ultimately be helped. So be patient, be open, be diligent, and be flexible.
Did you get some great pictures or information you would like me to post? Contact me and let’s talk about it. I can post your images like the ones I’ve already presented and your name will not be attached.
What If I Don’t Find Anything?
There are no guarantees here and that is definitely a possibility. My gut reaction is to tell you to keep looking. However, there is that chance that you may not find anything at all because there is a chance that your situation is not caused by a parasite. In this case, try to find another doctor interested in exploration. Try to remember that most things that really impact humans on this level are bacteria, viruses, fungus, and parasites. All we are really doing is trying to narrow down the culprit and rule out other things.
However, if you don’t find parasites, you may still be able to see the bacteria. Many bacteria are visible with the right microscope. In fact, so are fungi for that matter. These will likely be visible if your scope is powerful enough. ANYTHING other than sperm should be looked at. I think that no matter what, you’ll learn a lot in this process and you will be taking an active role in your health.
Try to remember that ruling something out is sometimes every bit as important as identifying the problem itself.
Identification & Treatment
There are no universal tests or treatments for parasites. This is why visual identification is so important. Different drugs and herbs work for different parasites. It sucks but that’s the case – at least right now. I just want you to have a clear expectation of what you’re up against if you’re dealing with parasites.
Also, I know that there will be a big temptation to identify the organism yourself and then to go ahead and treat yourself. That should be a last resort though. As you noticed above, there are tons of different types of parasites to consider and there are tests that can be ran that can narrow down the organism. The fact that you haven’t received these tests yet is really only due to ignorance on your doctor’s part. Help educate them or find another doctor. This is important so that you can get the best treatment possible. Like bacteria, treating parasites with the wrong drug can help build resistance to the drugs. Don’t do this unless it’s your last resort.
In fact, let me demonstrate this point using helminths as an example. Different drugs work differently on different helminths. It’s a complicated mess but to give you a better idea, you can read the following document: Diagnosis and recommended treatment of helminth infections. This is just a point in case as to why getting your parasite identified by a professional is so important (if you can).
I would also encourage you to read up a little on Drug Therapy for Common Parasitic Infections Within the United States. I know that some reading this article will live outside of the United States but that article provides some interesting insights into the variety of treatment options. Be aware though… that it does not cover ALL treatment options, I just want to help give you some ideas to work with so you have the ability to communicate with your healthcare provider.
That being said… if you simply can’t find any help, you can’t identify the source and you can’t source the anti-parasitic that you need, there is still hope because as far as mainstream medicine goes, it is known that effective treatments for these types of conditions usually include an anti-parasitic AND an anti-malarial drug or herb. As it turns out, nature provides some options. There are lots of natural remedies for parasites, protozoa, etc. You’re going to have to do some research here too though but I have compiled a list of potential treatments to consider. Again… you’re REALLY going to want to have a solid idea of what you’re dealing with before you start throwing money at treatments. Here is a link to a list of potential treatment options.
If you are desperate for some relief and need to get started right away, there are a few things you can do but know that doing so might hinder the results of your observations and prolong proper treatment. My recommendation is to suffer through until you get the evidence you need and THEN take something for the relief.
With being said, there are three supplements that have been reported to have at least helped the situation by providing some temporary relief. These are Artemisia, Pumpkin Seed Extract/Oil, and Berberine HCL. Each of these has different actions and do different things. Their effectiveness will greatly depending on what you’re dealing with.
This recommendation is backed by science. For example, according to Phytomedicine, Volume 51, 1 December 2018, Pages 233-240, both A. annua and A. afra (types of wormwood) provided faster effective treatment of schistosomiasis over praziquantel. In the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2016 Sep; 17(9): 1456.) they said that pumpkin seed extracts may be used to control nematode infections and that it’s probably an inexpensive alternative to chemotherapeutic drugs. And the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain said in their publication on March 11, 2011, that compounds including berberine chloride were found to show some correlation with antimalarial activity.
Additional Resources, Research & Considerations
As usual, I’m going to suggest that you do some research on your own. You’ve read this far so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. Below is a running list of articles and journals that I found interesting on this topic. I will add more as I find them.
- A Detailed Listing of Various Parasites
- Parasitic Pneumonia and Lung Involvement
- Genital manifestations of tropical diseases
- Overview of Parasitic Infections – Merck Manuals
- Approach to Parasitic Infections – Merck Manuals
- Evidence for Previously Unidentified Sexual Transmission of Protozoan Parasites
- Laboratory Diagnosis of Protozoal Infections
- Wuchereria bancrofti and epididymitis
- CDC Parasitology Diagnostic Web Site
- PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
- Medical Parasitology – Medically Important Parasites
- The American Society of Parasitologists – Medical Links
- Anthelmintics to Consider
- Parasites – Wild Rose College of Natural Healing
- Pinworms and epididymitis
- Helminthiases: a neglected cause for reproductive ill-health and social stigma
- Filarial Parasites Develop Faster and Reproduce Earlier in Response to Host Immune Effectors
- Parasitic Worms in Humans: Know the Facts
Many guys that find themselves in this boat are proactively looking for a solution together. If you are interested in being a part of this collaborative effort, don’t hesitate to contact me. Your name and information are not shared. Basically, I am compiling information, resources, and ideas that come from the various doctor visits that these men go to. Some of this information is added to this article. However, we need guys like you to take notes and report what you learn at your doctor visits. Together, we can find a solution and I feel that we are getting closer to it every day.
This article is going to be a work in progress. Feel free to check back from time to time. I’ll update this article with relevant things that I find or crucial information shared by either doctors or patients. If you find anything awesome, please let me know so I can add it.
This article was updated 10/22/19
David Robertson is not a medical doctor. This article is not medical advice, a professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or service to you or to any other individual. This is simply general information for educational and anecdotal purposes only. The information provided herein, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare providers. David Robertson is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain or utilize. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 OR YOUR PHYSICIAN.