Massage for undescended testicles

A number of readers have written in asking if massaging the abdomen can bring a testicle down into the scrotum, and if I know of a massage therapy or technique that works on an undescended testicle.

Here’s the good news: Massage can bring an undescended testicle down into the scrotum – but only temporarily.

If massage brings down the testicle, it means it’s retractile if it stays visible in the scrotum for a bit, or is undescended to just above the scrotum and can be stretched to come down into place.

This massage technique is also known as ‘milking the testicle down’, as the motion you need is similar to milking the udder of a cow!

How to massage down the testicle:

Put your son in a squatting position or, if he won’t cooperate, lying back with the soles of his feet touching and knees to the sides (this is called the “frog leg” position for obvious reasons!).

With two fingers, start at the top of his pubic mound and gently stroke downward past the penis on the side of the undescended testicle. Continue massaging downward to the scrotum.

If the testis appears, congratulations! Any testis that reaches as far down as the middle of the scrotum is most likely a retractile testis. If the testicle only just shows up in the top of the scrotum and then immediately bounces back up, your son has an undescended testicle. Either way, you still need it checked by a doctor.

It takes practice but don’t worry if you can’t massage it down – this means it is undescended and your surgeon may be able to. Sometimes you will feel the testicle ‘pop’ under your fingers as you stroke downwards but it won’t move, as this video shows:

So there we go: you’ve learned a new scrotum massage technique! Happy hunting 🙂

Why does massage therapy only work for a short time?

It’s to do with the muscle that holds the testicle outside (above) the scrotum. When the testicle is not in the scrotum, the muscle attached to it can have contracted, or may be too short to let it into the scrotum. This is called the cremaster reflex, and when massaged down you overcome the reflex (or the shortness of the muscle) temporarily. The reflex is very strong, but gets weaker at puberty. Here’s a video demonstrating the reflex:

Massage therapy cannot cure an undescended testicle, but it does give hope that surgery isn’t needed – or can be simpler than normal.

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