As a male baby grows inside his mother's womb, his testicles are formed inside his abdomen. His testicles should move down into their proper position prior to birth. However, there are cases in which a boy's testicles do not fall into the scrotum. The medical term for an undescended testicle is cryptorchidism. Approximately 1/3 of premature baby boys are affected by this condition, while only 3 percent of full term newborn boys are born with an undescended testicle.
Detecting An Undescended Testicle
- Through an exam shortly after birth, a doctor will be able to tell if a baby has an undescended testicle.
- One or more of the testicles may be missing from the scrotum.
- The scrotum may appear lopsided or empty.
- An undescended testicle may not cause your baby pain. However, it can create swelling.
Treating An Undescended Testicle
In most cases, the testicle will descend on its own without the aid of medication before the boy's first birthday. However, if the testicle has not descended into the scrotum, treatment is necessary. A testicle which is undescended can lead to infertility, tumor growth, hernias, as well as embarrassment.
- A doctor may choose to give hormone treatments. Hormones (B-HCG or testosterone) may help to induce the testicle to descend into the scrotum. If the hormone treatments do not work, surgery may be necessary.
- The procedure to bring the testicle into the scrotum is called orchiopexy.
- A small cut is made and the testicle is brought down into its proper position.
- The surgery is most effective for boys who are between 12 and 18 months.
- The surgery to repair an undescended testicle is usually done on an outpatient basis and recovery generally occurs within five to seven days.
What You Should Know
- A child who has been treated for an undescended testicle will generally not suffer from problems with fertility. However, if the child was treated for two undescended testicles he is more likely to have a low sperm count later in life.