Common Conditions Affecting the Testis: Cryptochidism

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Common Conditions Affecting the Testis: Cryptochidism

By Dr. Wambugu J. M. MBChB

They make Adam, Adam. The prime distinguishing factor between HIM and HER. The two crown jewels. The hanging buddies. The testicles, simply testis. As we celebrate Men’s Health Month, we take a brief look at common conditions that affect this all-important pair down there.

Cryptochidism (Undescended or Mal-descended Testis)
Let’s all take a minute, and confirm that we can feel the two pearls in their usual position. More so in the very young men out there. Early in life, before birth actually, the testis start developing inside the abdomen. In a very complex yet meticulous process, they begin their migration downwards from around week 9 of life. At birth, both testis are in their correct position in about 97% of all men. In small portion, they continue descending during the first year of life. In about 1% of the young men, either one or both testis are not palpable (felt) in the scrotum even after the first year of life. They may be retractile (occasionally felt but other times they move up), located around the groin along their ‘migration route’, or not palpable at all (abdominal or absent). These warrant medical attention.

What are the risks associated with undescended/ mal-descended testis? It affects sperm production and hence impairs fertility, increased chances of trauma and injury and makes it difficult to pick out other abnormalities that may develop on the two gentlemen.

Treatment for a pair that is not down there? Surgery. A relatively simple surgery known as orchidopexy, which involves loosening some of the structures that suspend the pair, translocating them to the right place and fixing them in the scrotum. Ideally done early in life around the age of 1 year. This helps in preserving fertility. But even for those in whom the condition is diagnosed later, surgery is still beneficial in that it minimizes the risk of trauma and aids in early detection of other pathologies that may affect our beloved testis.

So, next time let’s ensure we have felt the pair for all our men, especially the young ones.

Dr. Wambugu J. M. MBChB, Outspan Hospital

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