Undescended Testicle

Definition - What does Undescended Testicle mean?

An undescended testicle occurs when one, or both, of an infant boy’s testicles does not move into the scrotum, the sac of skin that hangs behind the penis, before birth. An undescended testicle is generally not a serious issue for a young infant, as the testicle is likely to resume its position within the first several months of life. Undescended testicles are significantly more common in infants born prematurely.

Undescended testicles may also be called cryptorchidism.

FertilitySmarts explains Undescended Testicle

While a fetus is developing in the uterus his testicles are growing in his abdomen. However, shortly before birth, the testicles descend into the scrotum. In order to make sperm, the testicles require a temperature several degrees cooler then what the body maintains. Thus, the testicles reside outside of the boy’s body for the remainder of his life.

If an infant’s testicle does not descend after several months, he may require medical intervention. This may involve surgery to locate the testicle and move it into position. Failure or delay in treatment may cause eventual fertility complications, as the sperm is unable to develop at the temperatures present inside the body. Additionally, there are several health complications that coincide with undescended testicles, including tumor development or testicle torsion.

Undescended testicles should not be confused with retractile testicle. Retractile testicle refers to the reflex boys develop around six months of age that allows the scrotum to retreat into the body, temporarily hiding the testicles. This is a natural reflex every male possesses, and is expressed during times of cold or fear.


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