Undescended testicles

Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchidism

A common childhood condition where a boy's testicles do not descend into the scrotum

About undescended testicles

When in the womb, a baby boy's testes (testicles) will form inside his abdomen. They usually move down into the scrotum by 35 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes one of the testes, or occasionally both, does not descend and remains in the abdomen. This usually corrects itself within three to six months after birth, but may need treatment otherwise.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of undescended testes icon plus

    There are likely to be no symptoms at all beyond the lack of one testicle or both testicles in the scrotum.
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will carry out an examination of your child to determine if one of the testes is undescended (unilateral cryptorchidism) or both are (bilateral cryptorchidism). This will be checked though a physical assessment of the scrotum and the abdomen, which can also ensure they've not temporarily retracted into the abdomen.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    If both testicles remain undescended, your consultant may suspect it's down to hormones. In that case, they may prescribe a course of hormonal treatment. Otherwise, they'll recommend a quick operation called an orchidopexy to bring down the testicle into the scrotum. This is because if the testicle remains in the abdomen, it may not form properly. The procedure is usually advised when the child is around one year old. If an undescended testicle is found to be too underdeveloped, your consultant may remove it. If the condition is treated early, there is often no long-term issue with fertility.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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