Pediatric Retractile Testicles

Pediatric Retractile Testicles

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Summary

Retractile testicles happen when the cremaster muscle contracts and draws the testicles out of the scrotum temporarily.

Expanded overview

Retractile testicles are caused by a normal reflex, and are not the same as undescended testicles (when the testicles are never felt in the scrotum). The testicles are connected to muscles called cremaster muscles that can move them in and out of the scrotum. When the muscles contract and draw the testicles out of the scrotum temporarily, it is called retractile testicles.

It is common for young boys to have retractile testicles, especially during a physical exam, which may trigger a reflex of the muscles that pull the testicles upward. This reflex is called the cremasteric reflex. All males have the cremasteric reflex, however, it is more pronounced in some boys than others. In most cases, retractile testicles will relax into the scrotum permanently during puberty (between the ages of 12 and 16 for boys).

Causes

Retractile testicles are caused by a normal reflex of the cremaster muscle, which can pull the testicles in and out of the scrotum temporarily. The reflex may be triggered due to causes such as:

  • Being cold
  • Fear
  • Laughter
  • Touching the inner thigh

Symptoms

The main symptom of retractile testicles is the appearance of an empty scrotum. However, upon examination, your child’s doctor can confirm if the testicles are simply retracted or undescended.

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