Cryptorchidism is when one or both of the testicles are undescended meaning that the testicle has not dropped in the scrotum. This condition is one that affects baby boys and is not a very common condition. The testicle will sometimes move into the proper place on its own. In cases where it does not descend, there are treatments and surgeries to fix the problem so it does not cause reproductive problems or cancer later in life.
- It is very common in premature baby boys. It rarely occurs in full-term babies. The testicles usually descend into the scrotum in the first few months of life.
- There isn’t an exact cause. It can be a variety of things that might cause cryptorchidism but there is not one definite cause. The condition runs in families so it could be hereditary. It could be based on the mother’s health when she is pregnant or environmental factors that can cause changes in hormones and growth.
- You should take your child to the doctor before they are one years old if the testicle does not descend. It is better to have the surgery early to prevent complications like infertility caused by damage to the testicles. The earlier it is done, the less likely complications might occur.
- Some risk factors for cryptorchidism in baby boys is low birth weight, born prematurely, family history of it, conditions that can affect growth during pregnancy like downs syndrome, and use of drugs or alcohol by mother during pregnancy.
- There are complications that can happen if the testicle doesn’t descend correctly. It can cause fertility problems and testicular cancer. The testes which are supposed to be located in the scrotum need to be cooler than the rest of the body for normal sperm production and development. If the testicle in located elsewhere it will be at body temperature causing low sperm production which can lead to a man being infertile. It raises the chances of testicular cancer because the testicle is not in the proper place.
- Surgery is most commonly down to a baby that has testicles that will not descend. The surgery is called Orchiopexy and it brings the testicle into the scrotum. A small cut is made in the scrotum and a pouch is created so the doctor can bring the testicle down in the scrotum. The sooner that the surgery is done, the less likely there are to be complications.
- Another treatment besides surgery could be hormones like testosterone or human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to try to get the testicle to drop.
- In some cases there might be a testicle actually missing. This can be from when the baby was still in the womb. Doctors can put in an implant to make the testicles look normal in the scrotum.
- Because having an undescended testicle as a child increases the risk of testicular cancer, it is important to do self-examination of the testicles. Your doctor can teach you the proper way to examine yourself for testicular cancer. Early detection of testicular cancer is the best way to prevent the spread of it.
Cryptorchidism is when one or both of the testicles don’t descend into the scrotum. Premature baby boys are at the highest risk of this condition but it is quite treatable. Generally the testicles will descend on their own but in the cases where they don’t they are options like surgery that can put the testicle in the right place. It is important for the testicles to be in the scrotum for reproduction and to prevent testicular cancer.