What age do the testes descend?

Written by: Miss Marie-Klaire Farrugia
Edited by: Jay Staniland

In most cases, the testicles (or testes) descend into the scrotal sac during foetal development. In 3% of newborn boys, the testes may not have descended at birth, but could do so over the first 6 months of life. If they haven’t done so, a consultation with a specialist paediatric urologist is advisable.


Undescended testes: What happens when I see a paediatric urologist?


When you make an appointment with a paediatric urologist, they will then examine your baby and check the position of the testes.

If the testes do not descend to the correct position easily, but they are easy to feel in the groin, then an orchidopexy procedure will be recommended at around 9 months of age. An orchidopexy is done as a day-case procedure, meaning your child will not need to stay in hospital, and will be able to return home after the procedure.

The procedure releases the testicle and fixes it in a pouch in the scrotal sac. There are a number of reasons why surgery may be necessary at this age:

  1.  According to research, the germ cells in the testes may not mature at the normal rate, which may cause problems with fertility later in life.
  2. Undescended testes carry a higher risk of twisting. If the testis becomes twisted, there is a chance that it may have to be removed if the twist is not corrected in time.
  3. Undescended testes carry a higher risk of testicular cancer later in adulthood. Operating to descend the testicle reduces, but does not remove this risk later in life.

If the testicle can’t be felt in the groin, then surgery may also be necessary in the form of a laparoscopy via the belly button, to initially locate the testicle.

Other investigations such as ultrasound are not usually helpful as laparoscopy will be required anyway. The testicle may be 'retractile' and may pop in and out of the scrotum. This is a natural reflex and only requires annual observation initially.

If you are concerned about undescended testes in your child, make an appointment with a paediatric urologist

By Miss Marie-Klaire Farrugia
Paediatric urology

Miss Marie-Klaire Farrugia is a consultant paediatric urologist and paediatric and neonatal surgeon based at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Cromwell Hospital in central London. She specialises in all areas of kidney, bladder and genital anomalies that babies are born with or develop later in childhood. In particular, she counsels pregnant mothers whose babies are prenatally-diagnosed with a kidney condition, so that the best postnatal plan can be made for the newborn.

Miss Marie-Klaire Farrugia is the clinical lead for paediatric surgery in Chelsea and Westminster and Imperial College Hospitals; an honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College; an assistant editor for the Journal of Pediatric Urology. Her research interests include the long-term outcome of prenatally-diagnosed urological problems such as hydronephrosis, megaureter, posterior urethral valves and vesicoureteric reflux (VUR). She is an experienced open, laparoscopic and robotic surgeon and performs neonatal and childhood circumcision; repair of simple and complex hypospadias including staged graft repairs; hernia and hydrocoele repairs; surgery for undescended testes; pyeloplasty; ureteric reimplantation; surgery on duplex kidneys and ureterocoeles; posterior urethral valves; nephrectomy and hemi-nephrectomy; Deflux injection for kidney reflux with urine infections; amongst others.

Miss Farrugia is an executive member of the Society for Fetal Urology and a member of the British Association of Paediatric Urologists, the European Society for Paediatric Urology, the European Paediatric Surgery Association, the American Association of Pediatric Urologists and the Societies for Pediatric Urology.

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