What is a testicular prosthesis?

A prosthesis is any artificial device used to replace a body part. When a male is born without a testicle or must have one removed due to injury or disease, a doctor may implant a testicular prosthesis to fill in the empty space in the scrotum (the sac that contains the testicles). The prosthesis is used only to improve appearance and to calm psychological fears. It does not have any functions of a real testicle. More often than not, requests for a testicular prosthesis come from those who are born with and later lose a testicle, rather than from those who have always been missing a testicle.

Testicular prostheses have been in use since the 1940s. In the past they were made of a variety of materials. Now, however, they are mainly made of silicone rubber filled with either silicone gel or saline (salt water). A testicular prosthesis will have the weight, shape, and feel of a normal testicle and will be available in different sizes so that a good match is made to the patient’s body.

What conditions or events can cause a missing testicle?

  • Malformed or missing at birth
  • Surgical removal due to injury, such as severe torsion (twisting)
  • Failure to descend into the scrotum
  • Removal due to infection
  • Removal in order to treat testicular cancer
  • As part of female-to-male gender reassignment surgery

What are the characteristics of a good testicular prosthesis?

The ideal testicular prosthesis should:

  • Have no chemical reactivity
  • Not cause inflammation
  • Resist mechanical stress
  • Be sterile
  • Be able to take on and hold the correct shape
  • Feel comfortable to the patient

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