Retractile Testicle

Overview

What is a retractile testicle?

A retractile testicle is a testicle that moves back and forth between the groin and the scrotum (the sac underneath the penis). A retractile testicle is not considered a serious health risk. The condition can affect young boys; most grow out of retractile testicle by puberty.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes a retractile testicle?

All males have a cremaster muscle (a thin pouch-like muscle in which a testicle rests). When the cremaster muscle contracts (tightens), it pulls the testicle upward toward the body; this is known as the cremasteric reflex. The cremasteric reflex is brought on by such things as cold, touch, and anxiety. In some boys, this reflex is exaggerated and causes a retractile testicle.

What are the signs and symptoms of a retractile testicle?

The main sign is the absence from time to time of one or both testicles. The testicles may be easily moved by hand down to the scrotum without pain, and stay there if the cremaster muscle is fatigued.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is a retractile testicle diagnosed?

A retractile testicle is diagnosed by a healthcare provider during a physical exam. The provider will make sure that it is not an undescended testicle (a condition in which the testicle does not descend into the scrotum and remains in the groin).

Management and Treatment

How is a retractile testicle treated?

In most cases, a retractile testicle does not need to be treated. It will often descend into the scrotum on its own without any medical help. Most cases of retractile testicle will end by the time the boy reaches puberty. A small percentage of retractile testicles can ascend and become undescended testicles. This would need to be treated with surgery.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/14/2020.

References

  • Merck Manual. Undescended Testes and Retractile Testes (http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/birth-defects-of-the-urinary-tract-and-genitals/undescended-testes-and-retractile-testes#v33014078) Accessed 9/21/2020.
  • Agarwal PK1, Diaz M, Elder JS. Retractile testis--is it really a normal variant? J Urol 2006 Apr;175(4):1496-9.
  • Docimo SG, Silver RI, Cromie W. The Undescended Testicle: Diagnosis and Management. Am Fam Physician 2000 Nov 1;62(9):2037-2044.

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