Undescended Testicle


Basic Facts

  • Four out of 5 boys born with undescended testicles (those that did not drop into the scrotum) will see the problem resolve on its own by age 1.
  • By age 2, a testicle not located in the scrotum will begin to lose some of its fertility potential.
  • Undescended testicles may increase the risk of testicular cancer 4 to 10 times if treatment is delayed.

The testicles, the male reproductive sex glands, produce sperm and the hormone testosterone and are found in the scrotum (the sac below the penis). Undescended testicles, also known as cryptorchidism, refer to testicles that fail to reach the scrotum while in the womb and at birth can reside anywhere between the kidney and the scrotum. The condition is listed under four different categories depending on where the testicle is found.

  • Abdominal testicle;
  • Ectopic testicles;
  • Canalicular testicles; and
  • Retractile testicles.


There are no symptoms associated with an undescended testicle.


No definite cause for one or both undescended testicles has been determined.


The condition is usually diagnosed during examinations of an infant male after birth.


Surgery is the standard treatment for undescended testicles. If the testicles are removed, the procedure is called orchiectomy. If the testicles are moved, the procedure is called orchidopexy. Both the orchidopexy and orchiectomy should be performed when a child is between 1 and 2 years of age.

If the undescended testicle is near the scrotum, physicians may instead treat the condition with multiple injections of human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that stimulates the production of testosterone and encourages the testicles to descend.

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