Right testicle riding up?

Originally Published: November 1, 1993 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 13, 2010
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Dear Alice,

I have (with much distress) that sometimes when I am having intercourse with my girlfriend, at the point of climax, my right testicle will "ride up" out of the scrotum into my body. I can feel it wedged up there and I usually can push it out back into the scrotum after withdrawal. Is this something I should be worried about?!!! I was born with normally descended testicles, and I haven't been kicked in the groin or anything and it only happens sometimes, not every time. It doesn't hurt when it rides up, but it is uncomfortable and feels strange. It is only the right one, never the left that does this.

Signed,
Ball in hiding?

Dear Ball in hiding?,

Although most body parts tend to stay put, it's common for the testicles to play hide and seek, especially when emotions are running high (including when you're having sex). A trip to a men's health care provider may give you some insight into why your right nut rises up and help to settle your concerns.

The cremaster muscle, a pouch that surrounds the testicles, is the likely culprit of your hiding testicle. Depending on the situation, the cremaster muscle lets your boys hang loose or reins them in tight. Perhaps you've noticed that when it's cold outside your balls seem to shrink up; that's your cremaster contracting and pulling the testicles close to your body for warmth. Similarly, the cremaster pulls the testicles in when your body is startled or aroused. Orgasm is a total body response that elicits all kinds of reactions from the body, not just ejaculation. When you climax, it's normal for testicles to "ride up" into your body.

In some males, an "overactive" cremaster muscle pulls one (or both) of the testicles all the way out of the scrotum up into the groin. This condition, called retractile testicle, may explain your experience. The cremaster reflex that causes retractile testicle is usually strongest during childhood, but lingers in some adult men. The health effects of this condition are not well known, but males with retractile testicle may be more vulnerable to testicular cancer, fertility problems, testicular torsion (twisting of the cord that connects the testicle to the groin), and damage caused by pressure against the pubic bone. However, if a retractile testicle isn't painful and it lowers back into place relatively soon, there's probably no cause for alarm.

To make sure that all is well below the belt, you may want to see an urologist or a provider who specializes in men's health. If you're a student at Columbia, you can make an appointment at Primary Care Medical Services by calling x4-2284 or using Open Communicator. During your visit, it may be helpful to talk with your provider about when your testicle goes into hiding, where it moves in your body, how long it takes to reappear, and what sensations you feel when this happens. The provider may also perform a physical exam to explore the anatomical nature of your rising testicle.

While it may be unsettling to have one of your balls go into hiding, this disappearing act seems temporary. A health care provider can give you more information about if and why your cremaster is acting up.

Alice