Undescended Testicles

What is an undescended testicle?
An undescended testicle is a condition wherein one of the testes has not moved into the scrotum at the time of birth. The scrotum is the bag of skin that hangs behind the penis. This condition is also known as cryptorchidism. While largely only one of the testicles remain undescended in rare cases both testicles may remain so. The condition is slightly more prevalent in prematurely born babies when compared to normal term babies.

What causes an undescended testicle?
While the exact cause of the condition is yet unascertained, it is understood that it may be caused by genetic factors, maternal health and other environmental factors which may disrupt the hormonal balance.

What are the symptoms of undescended testicles?
The most prominent sign associated with an undescended testicle is that there is no physical evidence of it at the time of birth. The scrotum appears underdeveloped or smaller on the affected side. And in some very rare cases, the undescended testicle can become twisted causing severe groin pain.

What are the risk factors for an undescended testicle?
Some of the factors that increase the possibility of undescended testicles in a new born baby include – low birth weight, premature birth, a hereditary history of undescended testicles in the family, foetal health conditions such as down syndrome, excessive alcohol abuse during pregnancy, and exposure of the parents to pesticides.

How is the undescended testicle diagnosed?
A surgical intervention is required for the diagnosis of an undescended testicle. The diagnosis can be based on a laparoscopic test, wherein a small tube containing a camera is inserted through a small incision in the abdominal region, or in some other cases an open procedure may be required.

How is undescended testicle treated?
The treatment of an undescended testicle is accomplished via a laparoscopic surgery, wherein a small tube containing a camera is inserted through a small incision in the abdominal region. The doctor will ascertain the location of the testicle and fix it at the same time. In some more complicated cases, an open procedure with a larger incision may be necessary.

Can undescended testicles cause infertility?
Yes. An undescended testicle could cause infertility as an increase in temperature of the testes – because of it being in the abdominal cavity – can hamper sperm production or sperm quality. This directly affects the ability of the individual to father a child. Also, the undescended testicle presents a greater threat of testicular cancer. This means both cancer itself and its treatment will further decrease fertility levels for the patient.

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