Is it time to do something about my 20-month-old's undescended testicle?
Testicles withdraw from the scrotum when a child is cold or when the inside of the thigh is touched, a normal reaction. The hot bath trick is to relax the area to see if the testicle is merely high in the scrotum rather than completely undescended.
We used to think that if we didn't bring the testicle down by a certain age, it would be abnormal. We now know that testicles that don't descend are often slightly abnormal to begin with. Males can be perfectly potent and fertile with only one testicle. The reason to bring undescended testicles down is both cosmetic and medical. A half-empty scrotum may make your son self-conscious, but also, as your son reaches adulthood, it is important to be able to check routinely for lumps just as women check their breasts.
Neither a family doctor nor the Internet should be the authority on this. Rather, seek the opinion of a pediatric urologist or surgeon. Most of the testicles that are going to descend on their own do it in the first year or so, although in some cases a short course of a hormone may bring down a testicle that is halfway there. Most experts agree that surgery should be done by age 2.