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What Are the Causes of Swollen Testicles in Infants?

by
author image Sharon Perkins
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.
What Are the Causes of Swollen Testicles in Infants?
Male infants may have swollen testicles for a number of reasons, some benign, some not. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

Infant males often have swollen testicles. Testicular swelling present at birth may be related to the birth process and vanishes within a few days. There are some causes of testicular swelling in infancy that need investigation and follow up to prevent permanent damage to the testes, the organs that make sperm in adult males. Pediatricians are well-versed in determining which testicular swelling is normal and which indicates abnormal conditions.

Birth Effects

Birth can have several effects on a boy's testicles. Boys born in the frank breech position, or backside first, often have swollen testicles from the trauma of the buttocks being the presenting part of the body as the baby comes through the birth canal.This swelling subsides within a day or two and has no permanent effects. Maternal hormones can also cause swelling of the testicles; this too will decrease within a few days and is nothing to worry about.

Hydocele

A hydrocele is a collection of fluid within a testicle; hydroceles may affect one or both testes. Congenital hydroceles, hydroceles present at birth, may be caused by an opening between the abdomen and the testicle. Fluid drains into the testicle from the abdomen. Hydroceles can be surgically repaired if they don't resolve on their own, but they often resolve without treatment, the Washington University in St. Louis explains.

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Inguinal Hernia

An inguinal hernia occurs in an infant when part of the intestines protrude into the groin or testicle through an abnormal opening between the abdomen and groin. Inguinal hernias affect the right side more often than the left. Hydrocele and inguinal hernia may occur together. Inguinal hernias are surgically repaired to prevent part of the bowel from becoming caught, which can cause tissue death. This is known as a strangulated hernia. Surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, and recovery period is around a week, KidsHealth of the Nemours Foundation states.

Neonatal Testicular Torsion

Neonatal testicular torsion occurs when the testicle becomes twisted inside the scrotum. This only occurs if the testicles are undescended, or haven't yet dropped into the scrotum. If neonatal testicular torsion occurs before birth, the testicle may be red and firm when the baby is born. Urology Health states that the testicle may not be able to be saved if this has already occurred at birth. If an undescended testicle in an infant suddenly becomes red, swollen and firm, immediate surgery may be able to salvage the testicle. Testicular torsion more often affects the right testicle than the left.

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