Undescended Testicles – Everything You Need To Know

As a mom, navigating the world of parenting can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding and addressing medical concerns that arise with your children. One such concern that can be particularly daunting for parents of baby boys is undescended testicles, also known as cryptorchidism. In this blog, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about this condition, from understanding what it is to treatment options and long-term implications.

Undescended Testicles

What Are Undescended Testicles?

Undescended testicles, or cryptorchidism, is a condition where one or both of a baby boy’s testicles fail to move into the scrotum before birth. Normally, during fetal development, the testicles form in the abdomen and gradually descend into the scrotum through the inguinal canal. However, in some cases, this process is incomplete or doesn’t happen at all by the time the baby is born.

Cryptorchidism is one of the most common congenital abnormalities in boys, affecting approximately 1-2% of full-term male infants and up to 30% of premature male infants. The condition can occur on one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral).

Types of Undescended Testicles

There are several classifications of undescended testicles, depending on their location:

  1. Abdominal: The testicle remains in the abdomen and has not entered the inguinal canal.
  2. Inguinal: The testicle is located in the inguinal canal but has not descended into the scrotum.
  3. Ectopic: The testicle has descended but is located outside the normal pathway, such as in the thigh, perineum, or opposite side of the scrotum.
  4. Retractile: The testicle moves back and forth between the scrotum and the groin. Although not an undescended testicle, it’s worth mentioning as it can cause confusion. Retractile testicles are generally not a cause for concern and usually descend on their own.

Causes of Undescended Testicles

The exact cause of undescended testicles is not fully understood, but several factors may contribute to the condition, including:

  • Genetics: A family history of undescended testicles or other related conditions may increase the risk.
  • Hormonal Factors: Hormonal imbalances or deficiencies during pregnancy can affect the development and descent of the testicles.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain chemicals and medications during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of cryptorchidism.
  • Premature Birth: Premature infants are at higher risk because the testicles typically descend during the last few months of pregnancy.
Undescended Testicles


Diagnosing undescended testicles usually involves a physical examination by a pediatrician shortly after birth. The doctor will check for the presence of both testicles in the scrotum. If one or both testicles are not palpable, further evaluation may be necessary.

In some cases, imaging studies such as ultrasound, MRI, or laparoscopy may be required to locate the testicle and assess its position. These tests help determine the best course of action for treatment.

Undescended Testicles

Treatment Options

The treatment for undescended testicles depends on several factors, including the child’s age, the position of the testicle, and whether the condition is unilateral or bilateral. Here are the main treatment options:


In some cases, especially in premature infants, the testicles may descend on their own within the first few months of life. Doctors often recommend a period of observation up to six months to see if spontaneous descent occurs. Regular follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor the situation.

Hormonal Therapy

Hormonal therapy may be considered as an initial treatment to stimulate the descent of the testicles. This involves administering human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs. While this treatment can be effective in some cases, it is not always successful and is less commonly used than surgical intervention.

Undescended Testicles

Surgery (Orchiopexy)

Surgery is the most common and effective treatment for undescended testicles. The procedure, known as orchiopexy, is typically performed between 6 and 18 months of age. During the surgery, the testicle is located, freed from any attachments, and moved into the scrotum. It is then secured in place to prevent retraction.

Orchiopexy is generally a safe procedure with a high success rate. Early intervention is crucial to reduce the risk of complications and improve long-term outcomes.

Potential Complications

If left untreated, undescended testicles can lead to several complications, including:

Fertility Issues

Undescended testicles are associated with an increased risk of infertility. The higher temperature inside the abdomen compared to the scrotum can impair the development and function of the testicles, leading to reduced sperm production. Early treatment significantly improves the chances of normal fertility.

Undescended Testicles

Testicular Cancer

Men with a history of undescended testicles have a higher risk of developing testicular cancer, even if the condition is corrected surgically. The risk is particularly elevated if the testicles remain undescended after puberty. Regular self-examinations and routine follow-ups with a healthcare provider are essential for early detection and management.

Inguinal Hernia

Undescended testicles are often associated with an increased risk of inguinal hernia, where a portion of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal wall. Surgical correction of the hernia may be necessary in conjunction with orchiopexy.

Undescended Testicles

Testicular Torsion

Testicular torsion, a condition where the testicle twists around the spermatic cord, cutting off blood supply, is more common in undescended testicles. This is a medical emergency requiring immediate intervention to save the testicle.

Psychological and Social Concerns

As a child grows, undescended testicles can lead to psychological and social concerns due to the appearance of the scrotum. Early treatment helps to prevent potential issues related to body image and self-esteem.

Aftercare and Long-term Follow-up for Undescended Testicles

After orchiopexy, your child will need to be monitored to ensure the testicle remains in the scrotum and develops normally. Follow-up visits will typically include physical examinations and, in some cases, ultrasound studies.

As your child grows, regular self-examinations and awareness of testicular health become important. Teach your child how to perform self-examinations and encourage them to report any abnormalities to a healthcare provider.

Parental Support and Coping With Undescended Testicles

Dealing with a diagnosis of undescended testicles can be stressful and overwhelming for parents. It’s important to seek support and resources to help you navigate this journey. Here are some tips for coping:

  • Educate Yourself: Understanding the condition, treatment options, and potential outcomes can help you make informed decisions and feel more confident in managing your child’s health.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask your child’s healthcare provider any questions or express concerns. Clear communication with the medical team is crucial for your peace of mind.
  • Seek Support: Connecting with other parents who have experienced similar situations can provide emotional support and valuable insights. Online forums, support groups, and social media communities can be great resources.
  • Focus on the Positive: Remember that the majority of cases of undescended testicles are treatable with excellent outcomes. Early intervention and proper medical care can minimize the risk of complications and support your child’s overall well-being.

Undescended Testicles Conclusion

Undescended testicles, while a common condition, can be a source of anxiety for parents. However, with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the majority of children with cryptorchidism go on to lead healthy, normal lives. By understanding the condition, staying informed, and seeking support, you can effectively manage your child’s health and well-being.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Reach out to your healthcare provider, connect with other parents, and stay proactive in your child’s care. Your love, support, and dedication are the most important factors in ensuring your child’s healthy development and happiness.

As a mom, your instinct is to protect and nurture your child. Dealing with undescended testicles may be challenging, but with knowledge, support, and the right medical care, you can help your little one overcome this hurdle and thrive. Keep asking questions, seeking answers, and advocating for your child’s health. You’ve got this!

(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *