During development, the testicles of a male fetus form inside the abdomen. At about 28 weeks of gestation, the testicles descend from the abdomen, through a tube-like space between the muscles in the groin (inguinal canal), into the scrotum.
Sometimes the testicles do not descend (undescended testicles or cryptorchidism) or only descend into the inguinal canal but not the scrotum (partially descended). Most of the time undescended testicles will descend within the first 4 months after birth.
- Decreased pressure in the abdomen.
- Abnormal string that pulls the testis down.
- Hormone abnormalities.
- Scarring in the descent tube.
- Abnormal muscle pull.
- Abnormalities in the testicles and cord structures.
Other Associated Conditions
- Water sacs in the scrotum.
- Abnormal development of the penis.
- Cerebral palsy.
- Mental retardation.
- Down syndrome.
- Tumors of the kidney.
Common Tests for Diagnosis
Undescended testicles are diagnosed by a physical exam.
Treatment is important to decrease the chance of infertility. Sperm production can begin as early as 12 months of age, so it is recommended that treatment occur by the age of 1. Hormones can also be used to stimulate the testicles to descend into the scrotum. Sometimes surgery is required.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider.