What is an Undescended Testicle?
This is where one or both of the testicles have not descended from the abdomen into the scrotum (the skin sack that the testicles should in). Undescended testicles can cause fertility problems because the testicles may not develop properly and being higher up in the body, they will be hotter and testicles need to be cooler than body temperature in order to produce sperm.
If you have had this condition in childhood, even if it was corrected, you should get yourself checked out by your doctor as sometimes you can get permanent damage even when the condition is corrected.
What are the Chances of Having Undescended Testicles?
About 1 in every 25 boys are born with undescended testicles, but for the majority of these, their testicles will have descended by the time they have their first birthday.
It is rare for a grown man to have undescended testicles as the majority of cases are discovered and treated when the man is an infant. However, a few young men do make it to adulthood without being diagnosed and if you had undescended testicles when you were younger, it is worth consulting with your doctor in case there was permanent damage.
Undescended Testicle Symptoms
Very simply you can check by feeling if both of your testicles are in your scrotum. You are best doing this when lying down as it makes it easier to check their position.
Please note that it is perfectly normal for one testicle to be higher than the other within the scrotum (it would be very complicated to close your legs if they were the same height). Just make sure that neither of them are in your abdomen.
Undescended Testicle Diagnosis
If you are unsure if your testicles have descended or had undescended testicles when you were young, you should book an appointment with your doctor to get yourself checked out.
This is not just for fertility reasons, as adult men with undescended testicles are at a higher risk of testicular cancer.
Undescended Testicle Treatment
In most childhood cases, an undescended testicle can be cured with a simple surgical procedure called a orchidopexy. However, it is more complicated for adults and treatment will depend on the age of the man, where the testicle is and the chances of fertility returning if it is put where it should be. If you think you may have an undescended testicle, first see your doctor who, if appropriate, will be able to refer you to a urologist who can assess and recommend the best procedure for you.
Undescended Testicle Associated Problems
If you had in the past or think you may have an undescended testicle, you may also want to read up on the following conditions that can be related:
- Ejaculatory Duct Obstruction – Undescended testicles or the surgery used to correct them can harm the delicate tubes the sperm travels along.
- Immune Response to Sperm – The immune system can target sperm trapped within a testicle as a foreign body that need to be destroyed.