Normally a baby boy’s testicles move into his scrotal sac from his abdomen before he is born. Sometimes this does not happen as it should. This condition is called undescended testicles. Usually only one testicle is affected but in some cases both testicles may be undescended. This condition is more common in premature boys. It is not related to the mother’s diet or activity during pregnancy.
Leaving a testicle in an abnormal position may affect the growth and development of the testicle. There may also be a risk of hernia with the undescended testicle, and it can twist and become more prone to injury.
The baby’s doctor will usually check for undescended testicles at birth and at the regular baby reviews. Some boys may need a referral to a paediatric surgeon if the testicles are not in position. This condition can usually be checked by a doctor during a physical examination alone. In general, scans are not required unless nothing can be felt.
The testicles will normally descend without intervention. Otherwise treatment should be sought. Early treatment is necessary to prevent an increased risk of infertility and development of testicular cancer later in life. However, the condition itself is painless and presents no immediate health problems. If only one testicle has not descended – it should be found and correctly placed for the boy at around one year of age. This operation is called an orchidopexy. It is a routine day surgery procedure and generally has few complications. A boy with one normal testicle will have normal hormone production and normal sperm production.