Undescended Testicles: What are they?

Undescended testicles, which can also be referred to as unilateral or bilateral cryptorchidism, is a common condition that affects male babies, causing their testicle to be in the wrong position. It is thought that around 1 in 25 male babies will be born with this condition, however it does not always need treatment. In most cases, the testicles will drop to the right position in the first 3-6 months of their life. Only around 1 in 100 boys will need surgery to correct undescended testicles.


They will usually be picked up as soon as your baby boy is born or a few weeks later. It is important to note that this is not painful and will not put your baby at any major health risk, however it is important to let someone like your GP or midwife known so that they can be monitored.

It is unknown why some boys are born with undescended testicles, however it is more common in premature babies, as they have not reached the full development stage.

If the testicles have not descended within the first 6 months of their life, then the likely hood of it happening is very low, meaning that treatment will likely be recommended. Treatment will always be recommended because it can lead to fertility problems in later life and an increased risk of developing testicular cancer. The surgical method that is used is called an Orchidopexy, and will ideally done at the age of 12 months. This is a relatively straight forward surgery and does not carry many risks, your child's surgeon will discuss these with you fully before a decision is made.

After surgery your child may feel a bit unwell while the anaesthetic wears off. Once you have returned home you should try to:

  • Give them regular doses of pain relief for the first couple of days

  • Keep them busy – so that they do not focus on the pain

  • Encourage them to drink a lot of fluids

  • Put them in loose fitting clothes – wearing a nappy is fine

  • Follow the advice that your surgeon gives you

  • Allow your child to rest for a few days before returning to school or nursery

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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