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Absent or Malformed Testicles

In some cases, a testicle does not descend to the scrotum because it is absent (anorchia or anorchidism) or is malformed (dysgenesis). Absent or malformed testicles may be caused by a problem with the development of the testicle during fetal growth. In some cases, an absent testicle may be caused when the testicle shrinks (atrophies) because of problems in development, lack of proper blood supply, or other factors.

Absence of both testicles is very rare. Lack of both testicles poses a serious health problem for normal development. Boys who do not have testicles must take hormone therapy when they reach puberty because their bodies do not have the hormones that are normally produced by the testicles and that are needed for normal development. Absence of both testicles also may indicate an intersex disorder, in which a baby develops characteristics of the opposite sex because of abnormalities in the chromosomes or endocrine system. Men who were born without both testicles will be infertile.

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Surgery is usually needed to distinguish an undescended testicle that cannot be felt during a physical exam (nonpalpable) from an absent or malformed testicle. In some cases, an undescended testicle is present but has not developed properly (dysgenesis). If the testicle is present but is found to be malformed, most doctors recommend removing it (orchiectomy) rather than trying to place it in the scrotum.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Anderson, MD, FRCS(C) - Pediatric Urology
Last Revised April 1, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 01, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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