Does Having a Single Testis Affect Sexual Function?
Orchiectomy is the medical name for a surgery to remove one or both testicles (or testes). It may be a necessary treatment for a man with testicular cancer to ensure that the cancer does not continue to grow in the testicle or spread to other parts of the body. Other reasons for an orchiectomy include acute testicular trauma, testicular atrophy, and testicular abscess. Nevertheless, a man with a single testis may wonder if it will have an effect on his sexual functioning.
The short answer is: usually it does not. If the remaining testis is functioning normally, it can produce enough testosterone to support a man’s sex drive and normal sexual functioning. A single testis can supply the body with enough of this essential sex hormone for a man to maintain good erections and ejaculate during orgasm.
The removal of a testicle leads to a considerable decrease in fertility potential, whatever the reason for it. However, a properly functioning testis will continue to produce sperm, and in most cases, a man with a single testis can still get someone pregnant.
Nevertheless, there are a few factors that a man may want to consider before undergoing orchiectomy. If there is concern about future fertility, the individual can talk to his health care provider about the possibility of sperm banking. Sperm banking is the process of extracting viable sperm from the testis, then freezing and storing the sperm for future use.
Additionally, the orchiectomy patient should consider how he feels about the appearance of the testis. If he is bothered by the look of a single testicle, he could discuss the possibility of getting a prosthetic testicle with his doctor or surgeon.
A prosthetic testicle is an artificial implant that replaces the testicle that was removed. It is surgically placed in the scrotum, which is the bag of skin behind the penis that holds and protects the testicles. Advancements in testicular prostheses have made them more natural feeling and looking than ever before.
Lastly, a person who undergoes the removal of a testicle should not ignore their mental health during the process. While having a single testis generally does not impact a person’s sexual functioning or fertility, an orchiectomy patient may still experience a feeling of loss or a change in their self-image due to the change in their physical state. If you or someone you love requires an orchiectomy, consider speaking with a mental health professional who can help you successfully navigate the feelings and emotions that may come with it.
- Cleveland Clinic. (2021, February 11). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/21467-orchiectomy
- Ferreira, U., Netto, N.R., Esteves, S.C., Rivero, M.A., & Schirren, C. (1991). Comparative study of the fertility potential of men with only one testis. Scandinavian journal of urology and nephrology, 25(4), 255-259. doi: 10.3109/00365599109024555
- Holland, K. Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, MD, MPH. (2019, January 24). FAQs About Living With One Testicle. https://www.healthline.com/health/faqs-about-living-with-one-testicle
- Tuinman, M.A., Hoekstra, H.J., Vidrine, D.J., Gritz, E.R., Sleijfer, D.T., Fleer, J., & Hoekstra‐Weebers, J.E. (2010). Sexual function, depressive symptoms and marital status in nonseminoma testicular cancer patients: a longitudinal study.Psycho‐Oncology: Journal of the Psychological, Social and Behavioral Dimensions of Cancer, 19(3), 238-247. doi:10.1002/pon.1560