Testicles form in the abdomen during fetal development. During the final months of development, the testicles gradually descend into the scrotum. If this descent isn't completed at birth, the testicle usually descends within a few months. If your son has a retractile testicle, the testicle originally descended as it should, but doesn't remain in place.

Signs and symptoms of a retractile testicle include:

  • The testicle may be moved by hand from the groin into the scrotum and won't immediately retreat to the groin.
  • The testicle might spontaneously appear in the scrotum and remain there for a time.
  • The testicle might spontaneously disappear again for a time.

The movement of a retractile testicle almost always occurs without pain or discomfort. As a result, it's noticed only when the testicle is no longer seen or felt in the scrotum.

The position of one testicle is usually independent of the position of the other one. For example, a boy might have one normal testicle and one retractile testicle.

Retractile testicle is different from undescended testicle (cryptorchidism). An undescended testicle is one that never entered the scrotum.

When to see a doctor

During regular well-baby checkups and annual childhood checkups, your son's doctor will examine your son's testicles to determine if they're descended and appropriately developed. If you believe that your son has a retractile or ascending testicle — or have other concerns about the development of his testicles — see his doctor. He or she will tell you how often to schedule checkups to monitor changes in the condition.

If your son experiences pain in the groin or testicles, see your son's doctor immediately.

Sept. 16, 2015