An undescended testicle, called cryptorchidism, is a common condition in which one or both of the testes, the male reproductive glands, do not completely descend from the abdomen into the scrotum during gestation.
The function of the testicle is to produce hormones and sperm. If the testicle is not in the “correct place,” it may not grow, develop or function correctly. Additionally, an undescended testicle may be associated with an increased risk of testicular cancer if not corrected prior to puberty.
Approximately three out of every 100 full term males are born with a testicle not felt or seen in the scrotal sac, but premature boys have rates closer to 1 out of 3. By the age of six months, most of these testicles complete their descent without any interventions.
Treating an Undescended Testicle in the Adult Male
In adult males who have not been treated for an undescended testicle as children, reduced fertility, as well as a higher incidence of testicular cancer, is of increased concern.
Most doctors agree that moving the testicle into the scrotum in an adult male under the age of 40 will not improve its ability to produce sperm and usually recommend that the testicle be surgically removed. After the age of 40, most doctors recommend that the testicle is left alone. Any adult male with an undescended testicle should consult a urologist to discuss the best course of action based on medical history.