In Summary
  • Occasionally, a boy’s testicles migrate back inside the groin even though they were properly housed in the scrotum at birth. This condition is known as acquired undescended testicles, or acquired cryptorchidism, which can happen between one and 10 years. This is usually because the cord which holds the testes grows slower than the person.
  • In a few cases, the baby may not have formed testes (Anorchia) or may have formed and got severely injured and disappeared. You need to take the boy to a doctor to better diagnose and treat the condition.

My child is four years old but has no testicles. Is this normal? Can I get him artificial testicles and will they work?
Jennie

Dear Jennie,
Human males normally have two testes located in the scrotum. The testes form in the foetal abdomen but descend to reach the scrotum by birth.
Some babies, especially those born prematurely may be found with no testes in the scrotum because the testes may be abnormal or they may not have had enough time to reach the scrotum.
However, then the testes are expected to descend into the scrotum by three months, failure of which a doctor should be consulted with the possibility of doing an operation to tuck them inside the scrotum.

If the testes are not brought down and fixed in the scrotum by six to 12 months, the child may have fertility issues in future.
Many undescended testes are actually abnormal in which case even bringing the abnormal ones down may not improve fertility. Also, there is a tendency of injury or cancer in the undescended testes. However, once they are brought down, they can be better monitored for cancer.

Sometimes people may mistake testes which are in the scrotum but keep running back into the groin (retractile testes) as a reflex response (to touch, temperature, fear, or laughter) for lack of testes.
Retractile testes do not lead to cancer or other complications and usually stop retracting into the groin by puberty because they grow larger therefore not requiring surgery or other treatment. In a few adults, retraction may occur during sex.

Occasionally, a boy’s testicles migrate back inside the groin even though they were properly housed in the scrotum at birth. This condition is known as acquired undescended testicles, or acquired cryptorchidism, which can happen between one and 10 years. This is usually because the cord which holds the testes grows slower than the person.

In a few cases, the baby may not have formed testes (Anorchia) or may have formed and got severely injured and disappeared. You need to take the boy to a doctor to better diagnose and treat the condition.