Undescended Testicles | Frequently Asked Questions

Do undescended testicles cause pain?

No, there is no pain associated with this condition.

Will my child need x-rays?

In most cases, a doctor will not be able to feel an undescended testicle by hand. However, imaging is not routinely necessary to evaluate for testicles that have not descended into the scrotum. In most cases, ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have not been shown to be beneficial or helpful in the management of undescended testicles.

Will my child need surgery?

If your child’s testicle does not descend on its own, his surgeon will most likely recommend surgery to move it down into the scrotum around your baby's first birthday. The surgery, called orchiopexy, reduces long-term effects including risk of cancer or infertility, and will improve your son’s body image through adolescence and adulthood.

Can orchiopexy reduce my son’s chances of being infertile or developing undiagnosed testicular cancer?

Warmer temperatures inside the body can impair the development of the testes and may affect the production of healthy sperm. Orcheopexy moves the testicles into the scrotum, where they’re about three to five degrees cooler than they would be if they remained inside the abdominal cavity. This improves the chances of fertility later in life.

Orchiopexy also makes it possible for young men to easily and routinely examine their testes to detect any abnormalities such as testicular cancer.

Will my child’s genitals look ‘normal’?

The surgeons at Boston Children’s are experts in the surgical treatment of undescended testicles and are committed to making your son’s genital area look as normal as possible. Further genital repair is generally not necessary, though the area will be re-evaluated at different points in care and/or at different ages in your child’s development.

Will my son still go through puberty?

Yes, your son should still go through puberty.

If I have another son, will he also have undescended testicles?

There is no evidence that undescended testicles have a genetic component.

Will my son be able to play sports?

Definitely. The expectation is that your son should be able to enjoy a normal, active childhood just like his siblings, friends, and classmates.

Will my son be able to have children of his own?

Undescended testicles may increase the risk of infertility. However, boys who have one undescended testicle tend to father children at the same rate as those who are not affected by the condition at all. Boys who have two undescended testicles — a much lower percentage of patients — do have a significantly lower fertility rate.

What are the chances my son may develop testicular cancer when he gets older?

Boys born with undescended testicles are slightly more prone to testicular cancer, even after corrective surgery, and at a rate of less than 1 percent. However, recent studies suggest that surgical repositioning may help in early detection of a testicular mass prior to the spread of disease, which may reduce the rate of malignancies. It is important to note that testicular cancer is most often curable, given the available treatments. At Boston Children’s, we are at the forefront of research and committed to improving the long-term outlook for boys born with undescended testicles.