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Removing a testicle (orchidectomy)

Removing the testicle is usually the first treatment for testicular cancer. Your surgeon usually removes the whole testicle. The operation is called an orchidectomy or orchiectomy. This is also used to diagnose the cancer.

Your doctor can put a false testicle in place of the missing one so it looks the same afterwards. This is called a prosthesis.

In some men with very small tumours the surgeon removes only part of the testicle but this is very rare. It is called a partial orchidectomy.

Having a testicle removed might reduce your chances of fathering children. Talk to your doctor if having children is important. They might suggest sperm banking before having surgery.

What to expect

You have the operation under either:

  • a general anaesthetic (where you are unconscious) or
  • a spinal anaesthetic (where you are awake but can't feel anything from the waist down)

The operation normally takes about 30 minutes.

The surgeon makes a cut in the groin and cuts the spermatic cord to remove the testicle. They might also remove nearby lymph nodes and a small gland called the seminal vesicle.

Diagram showing the testicle being removed (orchidectomy)

The surgeon sends the removed testicle to the laboratory for examination under a microscope. It takes a few days to get the results.

After the surgery

You have a few stitches in your groin. Your groin and scrotum may be uncomfortable for a week or so and you may need to take mild painkillers.

Removing one testicle doesn't affect your ability to have an erection. It shouldn't affect your ability to father children but it might reduce the chances.

If you have testicular cancer

You may need further tests and treatment if the operation shows that you have testicular cancer.

You have regular monitoring with blood tests for several years if the surgery removed all the cancer and there is a low risk of it coming back.

You have treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy if there is a higher risk of the cancer coming back.

Last reviewed: 
20 Jul 2020
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