Testicles form in the abdomen during gestation, and usually descend into the scrotum. Sometimes, though, the testes don't move into the scrotal sack, resulting in an undescended testicle. Also known as Crytorchidism, undescended testicles are the most common abnormality of the genitals for males at birth. In nearly half of all cases, the testicle will descend on its own, although if within 6 months it does not, medical attention should be sought out. Very rarely the testicle is never found, and is called an absent or vansished teste. It is important that the testicles descend to a cooler external temperature in the scrotum or the ability to produce sperm can be extinguished by the time a male turns one year old.
Another condition sometimes referred to as an undescended testicle is ectopic maldescent. In this case, the testicle (one of both) does not take the normal path or descent and often gets lost in the groin area.
There are many health conditions that can be a result of the testicles not descending properly, or at all. These include infertility, testicular tumor, psychological issues, testicular torsion, etc.. Testicular cancer effects 1 in every 2,000 men born with undescended testicles. Causes of this condition are unknown. There is an increased chance if the father or brother of the child also had and undescended testicle. Low birth weight, premature birth, and multiple births are some risk factors when dealing with undescended testicles.
There are multiple ways that doctors approach treating the genital defect. Typically, treatment is not induced until the infant reaches one year of age. Most of the time, the testes will descend on their own by this point in the life of a male with undescended testicles. Surgery is the main treatment, where a surgeon pulls down the teste and places it in the scrotal sac. Another treatment option is hormonal therapy. Injections of the hormone B-HCG (testosterone) are given in hopes that the testicle will drop without surgical intervention.
This condition can be very traumatizing to a male, and if your child has an undescended testicle, approach the situation and discuss with him that he is still a healthy young person. He should not avoid activities he enjoys, solely based on possible embarrassment or being ridiculed by others. Teach him how to approach every situation with confidence and knowledge. If you are uncomfortable explaining to him his situation, contact a health professional to discuss his common condition.