Retractile Testicle

A retractile testicle is a testicle that moves between the groin and scrotum in young children. A strong or overactive muscle reflex causes it. It may seem alarming, but it’s not a health risk. The testicle often moves back down into the scrotum on its own, but it may require a painless move by hand. Most children grow out of a retractile testicle.


What is a retractile testicle?

A retractile testicle is a testicle that moves back and forth between the groin and the scrotum (the pouch of skin behind your penis that holds your testicles) in young children. When a retractile testicle rests in your groin, you should be able to move it into your scrotum by hand easily. It’ll stay there until the cremaster muscle in your scrotum involuntarily tightens (contracts without you controlling it) in response to a stimulus, such as:

  • Touch.
  • An emotion like excitement, anxiety, laughter or fear.
  • Cold temperatures.

Is a retractile testicle something to worry about?

A retractile testicle typically isn’t serious. It usually doesn’t cause pain or create any issues with peeing. In most cases, it doesn’t require treatment and goes away by puberty.


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Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a retractile testicle?

The main symptom is the occasional absence of one or both testicles in the scrotum. You may easily move the testicles down to the scrotum without pain. They should stay there, unless your cremaster muscle is fatigued.

Why did my testicle go up inside me?

A strong or overactive cremaster muscle causes your testicle to go up inside you. The cremaster muscle is a thin, pouch-like muscle that holds your testicle. When it contracts, it pulls your testicle up toward your body (cremaster reflex).


What are the complications of a retractile testicle?

Some studies suggest that bilateral retractile testicles (when both testicles move between your scrotum and groin) may affect how sperm cells move, which may contribute to infertility.

In rare cases, retractile testicles can move upward in your body (ascend) and become undescended testicles (cryptorchidism). A healthcare provider may recommend an orchiopexy to treat undescended testicles. An orchiopexy is an outpatient surgery that permanently attaches the testicles to your scrotum so they don’t move.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is a retractile testicle diagnosed?

Babies and young children should see a pediatrician or another healthcare provider for regular physical examinations between the ages of 1 and 4 to ensure they’re healthy and developing as expected. A provider will examine your child’s testicles to ensure they’ve descended. They’ll also check for lumps, hernias and any other issues.

What tests will be done to diagnose a retractile testicle?

A healthcare provider can diagnose a retractile testicle during a physical exam. It’s a good idea to bring a favorite toy or book to help your child relax. Your child’s provider may put your child in certain positions that help relax the cremaster muscle. These positions may include:

  • Lying flat on their back.
  • Sitting cross-legged.
  • Squatting (like a baseball catcher).

Your child has a retractile testicle if the provider can move a testicle from the groin into their scrotum and it stays there.


Management and Treatment

How do you fix a retractile testicle?

A retractile testicle usually doesn’t require treatment. You can gently move the testicle back into your scrotum by hand.

Does a retractile testicle go away?

In most cases, a retractile testicle will go away without treatment as your child ages — usually before or during puberty.


Can a retractile testicle be prevented?

There’s no way to prevent a retractile testicle. But retractile testicles aren’t usually a cause for concern.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if my child has a retractile testicle?

The outlook for a retractile testicle is good. Most of the time, a retractile testicle goes away on its own.

There’s a small risk that a retractile testicle becomes undescended. Your child may need an orchiopexy to treat undescended testicles. The success rate for this surgery is high.

Living With

How do I take care of my child if they have a retractile testicle?​

As your child grows up and explores their body, they may have questions or concerns about their retractile testicle. The following tips can help your child understand their condition:

  • Explain what a retractile testicle is. Help your child understand what a retractile testicle is. Explain that there’s nothing wrong with them; it doesn’t define who they are, and it usually goes away on its own when they get older. However, it’s something a healthcare provider may need to check regularly.
  • Use age-appropriate language. For younger children, use simple language to explain how a retractile testicle affects their body or appearance and how it differs from others.
  • Validate their feelings. Your child may experience strong feelings about their retractile testicle, including embarrassment, frustration, anger or sadness. Let your child know that their feelings are normal. It’s also important to emphasize their strengths.
  • Reassure and support them. Reassure your child that you love and accept them and that they can come to you with any questions. It’s also a good idea to help your child craft a response if someone asks them about their retractile testicle or makes hurtful comments.

When should I see a healthcare provider?

Your child should see a healthcare provider for regular physical exams to monitor their overall health and any changes in their retractile testicle. These exams typically occur at:

  • 15 months.
  • 18 months.
  • 24 months.
  • 30 months.
  • 3 years.
  • Yearly between 4 and 21 years.

What questions should I ask a healthcare provider?

  • How do you know my child has a retractile testicle?
  • Does it affect one or both of my child’s testicles?
  • Does my child need treatment for their retractile testicle?
  • If my child needs treatment, at what age should we treat them?
  • What can I do to monitor a retractile testicle?
  • What should I do if my child has pain in their testicles or the surrounding area?

Additional Common Questions

What is the difference between a retractile testicle and an undescended testicle?

Undescended testicles are testicles that don’t drop from the abdomen into the scrotum while your child is developing in the uterus or in the first several months after birth. If your child’s testicles don’t descend into their scrotum by the time they’re 6 months old, they may need hormone therapy or an orchiopexy (surgery).

An undescended testicle can also occur later in childhood, usually around the age of 8. It often occurs due to a retractile testicle.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

As a parent, feeling worried or anxious about your child’s health is normal. A retractile testicle diagnosis can trigger stress or make you feel like you did something wrong. But it’s OK — a retractile testicle usually isn’t serious and won’t cause any physical pain or discomfort in your child. It usually goes away without treatment by the time your child reaches puberty. In the meantime, keep an eye on it. Schedule regular checkups with your child’s healthcare provider so they can monitor it. They can also answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 05/02/2024.

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