During pregnancy, the penis, testicles and scrotum take shape in the mother’s womb with normal testicles forming early in a baby’s growth. They start in the lower belly (abdomen) then descend or move down into the scrotum before birth. 

What are Undescended Testicles?

Undescended testicle, or cryptorchidism, is when one or both of the testicles don’t drop into place. The scrotum looks and feels empty, but most of the time there are no other symptoms. 

There are different types of undescended testicles:

  • Nonpalpable testicle is a testicle that cannot be felt in an exam. It may be in the abdomen (undescended), very small (atrophic) or not there at all.
  • Retractile testicle is when the testes move freely from the scrotum to the groin. They can be moved by hand from the groin to the scrotum.
  • Ascending testicle is when the testicle isn’t attached in the scrotum. It is noticed as the child grows.

The reason why in some cases the testicles don’t drop is unknown.


Testicles that don’t drop, won’t work the way they should. In the abdomen, they will be too warm which will stop sperm from growing as well. The scrotum hangs below the body because sperm are very tiny male sex cells that like to keep cool. Unhealthy sperm leads to infertility. 

Additionally, undescended testicle is the most significant risk factor for testicular cancer. 


The undescended testicle usually corrects itself before age one. It can also be surgically corrected. There are two main types of surgery for undescended testicles:

  • Orchiopexy: Usually, a very quick and successful type of surgery. It includes two small cuts. One cut to find the testicle, and another cut to put the testicle in place. Almost always, the child can go home the same day.
  • Laparoscopic surgery: This surgery is performed when the urologist can’t find the testicles. A special, tiny camera and tools are used to work inside the child’s body. With this, the testicle(s) are found and freed from nearby tissue. They are then moved into place and secured there.

If the testicle is too high in the abdomen, other treatment may be needed.

Schedule an Appointment

At Alliance Urology Specialists in Greensboro, our goal is to provide the highest level of specialized urology care. Our board-certified physicians specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of conditions, including undescended testicles. To learn more about our treatment options, call (336) 274-1114 to schedule an appointment.