What is Cryptorchidism?
Cryptorchidism is also known as an undescended testicle. It is a testicle that has not moved into its proper position in the bag of skin hanging below the scrotum before birth. The undescended testicles normally affect one testicle, but about 10 percent of the time both testicles are affected. Prematurely born boys are more likely to have an undescended testicle than healthy boys.
The vast majority of the time, the undescended testicle moves into the proper position on its own, within the first few months of life. In cases where the undescended testicle does not correct itself, surgery can be used to relocate the testicle into the scrotum.
Symptoms of Cryptorchidism
Undescended testicles are characterized by a lack of visibility or sensation in the scrotum where one would expect them to be. Testicles form in the abdomen during fetal development. As a fetal continues to develop, the testicles gradually descend from the abdomen through a tube-like passageway in the groin into the scrotum. With an undescended testicle, that process stops or is delayed.
What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Cryptorchidism?
The specific causes of cryptorchidism are unknown but a combination of genetics and maternal health can be one of the causes of the condition. Other factors may influence the growth of the testicles by influencing hormones, nerve activity, and physical changes. Factors that might increase the risk of an undescended testicle in a newborn include:
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Family history of undescended testicles or other problems of genital development
- Conditions of the fetus that can restrict growth, such as Down syndrome or an abdominal wall defect
- Alcohol use by the mother during pregnancy
- Cigarette smoking by the mother or exposure to secondhand smoke
- Parents’ exposure to some pesticides
How to Diagnose Cryptorchidism?
After birth, the doctor can determine cryptorchidism thorough physical exam. If the doctor cannot detect any testicles in the scrotum, he or she might order further testing to determine if the testicles are not there at all rather than undescended. For diagnosis your doctor may also recommend:
- Laparoscopy. It locates an intra-abdominal testicle. The doctor might be able to fix the undescended testicle during the same procedure, but an additional surgery might be needed in some cases.
- Open surgery. Direct exploration of the abdomen or groin through a larger incision might be necessary in some cases.
Treatment for Cryptorchidism
In this case, the objective of treatment is to deliver the undescended testicle to its proper location in the scrotum. Treatments often include using hormones to reduce the risk of complications of an undescended testicle, such as infertility and testicular cancer. Adults or aged people with cryptorchidism and infertility can have any of the HCG products, such as: