Before birth, a boy baby’s testicles develop in his abdomen. As birth approaches, they normally drop, or descend, into his scrotum. In a small number of cases, however, one or both testicles will not descend. This occurs more often in boys who are born prematurely as their bodies have not had enough time to fully develop.
For many of these boys, the testicles will manage to descend within the first few months of life, but not for all boys. If the testicles appear to be present at certain times (especially when he’s warm) but not at others (especially when he’s cold) this is a sign that the testicles are acting normally (they move up into or drop out of the body cavity as his body temperature changes). But if he is comfortably warm and the scrotum looks lopsided because only one testicle is present, this is a sign that the other testicle may have failed to descend. This is a condition that your child’s health care provider will want to monitor.If over time the testicle descends as it should, nothing need be done. If, however, it has not descended by the age of one year, treatment should be considered. Treatment usually involves surgery to bring the testicle into the scrotum. When an undescended testicle remains within the body cavity for over two years, the boy has an increased chance of infertility as an adult and my not be able to have children of his own. He may also have a slightly higher risk of developing testicular tumors. If, however, treatment at age one or one and a half successfully brings the testicle into a normal position, these risks usually do not apply.
Undescended testicles are not painful. Should your son complain of pain in the scrotal area, however, call his health provider right away. You’ll want to have him checked to make sure that there is no twisting of the undescended testicle that could lead to possible permanent damage.