Undescended Testicle - CryptorchidismAs a baby boy grows inside his mother's uterus her placenta secretes a hormone known as chorionic gonadotropin. This hormone signals the baby boy to develop testicles which are already hard-at-work secreting testosterone when he is only four weeks old! This early hormonal bath helps to define his maleness and is necessary for the formation of the penis, scrotum, prostate, seminal vesicles, vas deferens and all his reproductive structures.

Development of Gonads

Early on in his development, the baby's testicles reside inside his abdominal cavity but usually will have descended into his scrotum by the time he is born. When one or both testicles do not migrate into the scrotum, the baby is said to have an undescended testicle or cryptorchidism (hidden testis).

An undescended testicle doesn't cause pain. The only indication may be that the scrotum looks a little less developed on one side and you won't be able to feel the testicle on the side where it hasn't descended. Most baby boys born with undescended testes will have them descend into the scrotum within the first few weeks following birth.

Testosterone is the hormone which causes the testes to descend, but after baby boys are born they no longer have the testosterone stimulating effect of chorionic gonadotropin coming from the placenta. Since baby boys' sexual development comes to a complete standstill until the time of puberty, an undescended testicle may persist.

Treatment for Undescended Testes

Sometimes a doctor is able to coax the testicle into position by using manual manipulation and gentle pressure.

Oriental medicine uses the application of heat (moxa) and acupunture applied to the lower extremities to achieve the same end.

Other doctors may recommend surgery (orchiopexy or orchidopexy) if the testicle hasn't dropped on its own within 6 months. Surgery is usually performed when the baby is 9 to 15 months old. The required laporoscopy is relatively safe and effective, and most babies will recover quickly.

Still other doctors will recommend hormonal therapy to aid the testicle in its descent. Hormonal therapy is successful in only 10 - 20 percent of cases, however, and some experts feel that in cases where hormones are sucessful, the testis would have descended on its own at the time of puberty.

Undescended Testicle Risks

Other than appearance, there are only two major concerns with regard to an undescended testicle. The first concern is infertility. Some damage to a testicle's sperm-making ability can begin as early as 12 months of age and a testicle which has not descended by the time a boy is five or six-years-old will likely lose its ability to produce live sperm.

Generally speaking, an undescended testicle cannot produce live sperm because the testes must be 1 C lower than normal body temperature in order for the sperm to survive. On the other hand, an undescended testicle will continue to secrete hormones unless it is congenitally abnormal.

The second concern is that some research indicates a higher incidence of malignancy in cases of cryptorchidism than in a normally descended testis. Testicular cancer is rare and most often occurs in young men between the ages of 28 and 32 years.

Herbal Treatments for Underdeveloped Testes or Undescended Testicle

Herbalist James Green recommends the following preparation to supply nuritional support for the healthy developmant of a young boy's gonads:

Gonad Tonic3 parts Saw Palmetto - a nutritive, gonad tonic1 part Corn Silk - a demulcent, genito-urinary tonic1 part Catnip - a gentile nervine and astringent1 part Alfalfa seed and leaf - high in nourishing vitamins and minerals1 part (or more) Fennel seed - as a digestive aid and for flavoringEither a tea or a tincture can be made using the above formula. In The Male Herbal, Green recommends one-half cup of tea or 25 drops of tincture once or twice per day.

He also reminds the reader that Saw Palmetto is an unpleasant tasting herb and suggests the use of as much Fennel as necessary to make the tea palatable.

ReferenceGreen, J (1991). The Male Herbal: health care for men and boys. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.Undescended Testicles - Topic Overview (n.d.) Retrieved August 31, 2011 from WebMd Web site: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/tc/undescended-testicle-topic-overviewDisclaimer

The information in this article is presented for instructional purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Suite101 and the author disclaim any liability for decisions made based on this information.