undescended testicles

So it might be that you remember as a child having undescended testicles or perhaps it’s come up in conversation with your parents over Sunday lunch, or perhaps you had no idea until recently when you delved into your health history, but is it a problem?

The short answer is yes, which is why we ask about it in our free health questionnaire.

During foetal development the testicles should descend into the scrotum before birth. Sometimes this will be delayed until a few months after birth however on some occasions one or both of the testicles will remain in the lower abdomen (i.e undescended).

This, amazingly, even at a young age can have a profound effect on a man’s fertility many years later.

The testicles are outside the body for a reason and that is to keep them cool. If the testicles remain in the abdominal cavity, even at a young age, then the cells within the testicles will become damaged. This damage is permanent and can lead to poor sperm quality.

If only 1 testicle remains undescended then a man’s fertility will drop by approximately half whilst if both remain undescended then this will have a serious impact on his fertility and ability to conceive.

Undescended testicles are actually relatively common occurring in approximately 1 in 25 boys however only around 1 in 100 need corrective surgery if the testicles haven’t descended within 6 months.

In the past, surgery wasn’t given until much later in a boy’s life usually just before puberty however it has now been recognised that earlier intervention is important for preserving a man’s future fertility. Therefore, surgery should be carried out before 6 months.

If you know that you had undescended testicles as a child then it’s important to get properly checked. A semen analysis may identify issues with your sperm quality however it’s also important that you speak with an Andrologist to discount any other causes of decreased sperm quality whilst also looking at appropriate treatment options.

Being clear on your health and medical history really is paramount when it comes to your fertility so if you have any doubts, we would strongly recommend that you discuss these with your GP or other medical professional.