Cryptorchidism is a medical condition in which the testicles fail to descend into the scrotum. It affects more than 3% of all men leading to either infertility or testicular cancer. This article assesses the causes, the effects and treatment options available for cryptorchidism.
What is Cryptorchidism?
Cryptorchidism refers to a medical condition in which the testicles fail to descend into the scrotum and remain either in the abdominal or pelvic cavity during fetal development. It affects more than three percent of all males and therefore ranks as one of the most prevalent form of male genital deformity.
Causes of Cryptorchidism
Several factors predispose male children to Cryptorchidism. They include:
a) Regular alcohol consumption during pregnancy – Alcohol intake among pregnant women has been reported to increase chances of the unborn developing Cryptorchidism.
b) Premature delivery – Male children born before term are most likely to have either one or both testicles undescended.
c) Genetic factors – Researchers have linked Cryptorchidism to the genetic constitution of the male child. Fathers with Cryptorchidism are most likely to have male children with the condition.
d) Chemicals – Some chemicals known as endocrine disruptors are known to cause a hormonal imbalance in the fetus that may lead to Cryptorchidism. Exposure to DDT, Bisphenol A, and phthalates is associated with undescended testicles.
Effects of Cryptorchidism
Cryptorchidism is associated with the following effects among patients:
a) Infertility – Men born with undescended testicles have reduced fertility.
b) Cancer risk – Research reveals that cryptorchids have an increased risk of suffering from testicular cancer.
c) Psychological consequences – Children born with Cryptorchidism tend to elicit psychological complications that mainly arise from the thought of being different from other normal male children. Anxiety, shyness and immaturity are higher in cryptorchids than normal children.
Treatment of Cryptorchidism
There are two major options used for treatment of Cryptorchidism.
a) Surgical intervention – Cryptorchidism is primarily managed by a surgical procedure known as Orchiopexy while the child is still in his infancy.
b) Hormonal therapy – HCG injections may also be used for cases in which the testicles are in the inguinal canal.
If your son has this condition, the earlier you contact a pediatric surgeon the better.