Undescended Testicle - Topic Overview
What is an undescended testicle?
As a baby boy
grows inside his mother, he develops
testicles. Early in his development, his testicles are
in his belly. Normally, before he is born, his testicles move down into his
scrotum, the sac that hangs below the penis. When one
testicle does not move into the scrotum as it should, the baby has an
undescended testicle . In rare cases, both testicles
About 5 out of 100 baby boys are born with an
undescended testicle.1 It is most common in babies who
were born before their due date or who were very small at birth.
Doctors don't really know what causes an undescended testicle. This common condition runs in some families (can be
Most of the time, the testicle descends (drops) on
its own by the time the baby is 3 months old. If your baby’s testicle hasn't dropped by the time he is 6 months of age, your doctor may suggest
What are the symptoms?
testicle doesn't cause pain or other symptoms. The scrotum may look a little
smoother or less developed on one side, or the side without a testicle may look
smaller and flatter. You can't feel the testicle in the scrotum on the side where it hasn't descended.
How is an undescended testicle diagnosed?
newborn and well-baby visits, your doctor will check your baby’s scrotum.
- If the testicle can be felt but it is not in
the scrotum, the doctor will probably want to check your baby again at 3 to 6
months of age. By this time, the testicle may have moved into place on its own.
- Sometimes the doctor can't feel the testicle at all. It could
still be in the baby's belly, it could be too small to feel, or it could be
absent. The doctor may recommend a type of
laparoscopy to see if he or she can find the testicle.
Laparoscopy requires only a small cut below the belly button, which heals
- If both testicles are undescended and can't be felt in the
groin, the doctor will do a blood hormone test to find out if the testicles are
absent. This means having no testicles at all. It is very rare to have two absent testicles.
Some other conditions are closely related to undescended testicles, such as an ectopic or retractile testicle. In both of these conditions, the testicle is in an abnormal position in the groin or scrotum. Your
doctor will take care to make the correct diagnosis so your child can get the
How is it treated?
Usually doctors recommend a
wait-and-see approach for newborns. If the testicle
hasn't dropped on its own within 6 months, your doctor may
recommend surgery (orchiopexy or orchidopexy). Surgery is done when the baby is 9 to
15 months old. It is safe and effective and has few risks. Most babies recover quickly.