While a baby boy grows in the uterus, his testicles are located inside his abdomen. Just before birth, in most cases, the testicles descend into the scrotum. It is estimated by the American Academy of Pediatrics that about one in 30 baby boys has an "undescended" testicle (also known as cryptorchidism) that has not moved into the scrotum. This is most common in boys born prematurely. While most undescended testicles drop down on their own by the time the baby is 3 or 4 months old, in some cases, medical intervention is necessary to move the testicle into place. Most baby boys will have their testicles checked at every checkup with the paediatrician.
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Lift the baby's legs gently, similar to when you are changing his diaper. Feel the scrotum using your fingers. You should be able to feel the testicles if they have descended; they will feel like small marbles inside the scrotum.
Press gently on the groin area. Determine if one or both testicles can be felt in the baby's scrotum. In some cases, you will be able to feel the undescended testicle in the baby's groin area.
Wait 3 to 6 months, if the testicle is not able to be felt in a newborn. In some cases, the testicle will move into place on its own during that time.
Arrange for an X-ray or ultrasound to locate the undescended testicle(s) if it has not moved on its own or it can not be located manually. If necessary, laparascopic surgery will be performed if the testicle has not descended by 9--15 months of age.
Tips and warnings
- In some cases, physicians will prescribe hormone therapy to try to get the undescended testicle to drop on its own.
- In rare cases, if testicles can not be found either by hand or through diagnostic imaging, a physician will order blood hormone tests to determine if the testicles are present at all.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an undescended testicle should not be left untreated. If the testicle is left in place for more than two years, it can lead to infertility and an increased risk of testicular cancer later in life.
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