Common Baby Genital Problem: Undescended Testicles

Image from KidsHealth.org
Image from KidsHealth.org

We know that the wellbeing of your child is your priority. We also understand that genital health may not be easy to understand or research, which is why we’re providing you information here.

For this article, we’re focusing on undescended testicles, also known as cryptorchidism. It is the most common genital abnormality in boys, and one we often treat at Children’s Urology.

What is it and how does it occur

While in utero, a baby boy’s testicles typically form inside his abdomen and move down (descend) into the scrotum shortly before birth. In some cases, that move doesn’t happen. Approximately 30% of baby boys born prematurely and about 4% born at term experience undescended testicles.

The exact cause of this condition is not known. A combination of genetics, maternal health, and environmental factors that disrupt hormone growth may be likely reasons.

What to look for

In most babies, the undescended testicles move down on their own by around sixth months. If this does not occur, it’s important to seek treatment. Undescended testicles can be injured due to their unnatural position and may  affect fertility later in life.  Additional issues may include greater risk of tumors forming, development of inguinal hernias or embarrassment for a young boy caused by an abnormal scrotum.

Treatment

A pediatric urologist can best diagnose and determine the course of treatment. If it’s confirmed that your son has undescended testicles,  surgery to reposition the testicle in the scrotum may be necessary. During the surgery, known as orchiopexy, a small cut is made in the groin and the testicle is brought down into the scrotum where it is fixed (or pexed) into place.

If you think your son might have this condition, discuss options with your pediatrician or make an appointment with a Children’s Urology specialist by calling (512) 472-6134.

Click here for more information on undescended testicles from kidshealth.org.