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Can Undescended Testicles Cause Infertility?

The testicles develop in the abdomen while a male baby is still in the uterus. Before birth, the testicles typically drop from inside the abdomen down into the scrotum. The scrotum is the sack of skin hanging behind the penis where the testicles are housed.

Undescended testicles fail to drop into the scrotum before birth or in the first few months of life. The condition is also called cryptorchidism.

How common are undescended testicles?

About 3% of babies are born with undescended testicles, however, the condition is much more common in premature babies (up to 30%). In about half of babies born with undescended testicles, the testicles descend on their own within a few months of life.

What are retractile testicles?

In some cases, the absence of testicles in the scrotum is a result of a muscle reflex. This condition is called retractile testicles. The reflex will pull the testicles out of the scrotum and back up into the body when he’s cold or scared. The reflex is temporary and usually resolves at puberty.

Retractile testicles naturally descend back into the scrotum. Your child’s healthcare provider can usually guide retractile testicles back into the scrotum during a physical exam. Retractile testicles don’t generally require surgery or other treatment.

What causes undescended testicles?

There is no clear reason why some babies are born with undescended testicles. In some cases, hormones could interfere with the testicles’ development.

The condition is more common in premature babies who haven’t had a full nine months to develop before birth. There is no evidence that anything a mother does while pregnant causes a baby to have undescended testicles.

What are the symptoms of undescended testicles?

Most babies and children with this condition have no symptoms. The only sign is that the scrotum is empty.

What are the complications of undescended testicles?

After a boy goes through puberty, the testicles start producing sperm. To make healthy sperm, the testicles need to be two to three degrees cooler than the body’s core temperature. That’s why the testicles hang below the body, inside the scrotum.

If the testicles don’t drop into the scrotum, they may not function normally and produce healthy sperm. This can lead to infertility later in life.

Males born with undescended testicles also have a higher risk of testicular cancer in adulthood. If the testicles are in the abdomen and not down in the scrotum, this can make it more difficult to diagnose and treat.


When the testicles do not descend as they should, they are in the body and therefore at a higher temperature than normal. This higher temperature affects sperm count and quality, which causes a decrease in fertility.

Testicular cancer is also an issue, especially for males with both testicles undescended. Correction may decrease the risk of future testicular cancer, but it will not eliminate it. For individuals with testicular cancer, the cancer itself or treatment of it can prevent fathering a child.

Chawla Nursing Home offers hope for these individuals. If you have an undescended testicle and desire to be a father, contact our doctors, and schedule a consultation appointment. We can provide you with treatment options.

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