What is Hypospadias?

If your baby boy was born with a penis that doesn’t look or work quite like it’s supposed to, you want to know if he can be treated right away. And that’s understandable.

Hypospadias is pretty common and can sometimes be left as is. But doctors can do surgery to fix the problem when needed.

Urine and sperm travel through the urethra, the tube that opens at the tip of the penis. But boys with hypospadias are born with that opening on the underside of the penis.

Depending on where the opening is on your son’s penis, he could have mild or more serious issues.

Keeping it clean may be hard, too. The opening can be bigger than normal. And when it’s located on the underside of the penis, it can be difficult to check on whether it’s clean, or if there is redness or infection.

If his hypospadias isn’t corrected early, a boy may have to sit down when he pees. And if he still has it as an adult, he could have problems having children because it could be hard to direct his sperm inside a woman.

What Causes It?

As with many other birth defects, doctors aren’t sure why some boys get hypospadias. They think some of the reasons could be:

  • Genetics. It’s more likely if the boy has relatives who were born with it.
  • Fertility treatments. The mother may have used hormone therapy or medicine to help her get pregnant.
  • The mother’s age and weight. There’s more chance a baby whose mom is overweight and over age 35 will be born with hypospadias.

You can reduce your baby’s chances of hypospadias while you’re pregnant.

  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Take 400 to 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day (the bottle should have the dosage printed on it – 400 mcg, for example.)
  • Visit your doctor.

How Do I Know if My Son Has It?

Doctors can identify hypospadias by examining your baby’s penis. Most often it’s easy to see that the opening is in the wrong place.

In some cases, the penis also curves in a downward arc, something doctors call chordee. It shows during an erection.

Continued

Types of Hypospadias

There are three kinds, depending on where the urethra opening is located:

  • Near the head of the penis (subcoronal)
  • Along the shaft of the penis (midshaft)
  • Where the penis and scrotum meet, or on the scrotum (penoscrotal)

How Does the Surgery Work?

If the location of the opening is near the tip, the penis often works well enough to leave it alone.

But many cases of hypospadias call for surgery to move the urethra and opening. This procedure often includes straightening the penis.

Doctors use skin from the foreskin or elsewhere on the body to repair the opening. Your doctor likely will not circumcise your son, but leave the foreskin intact for this purpose.

Children who get this surgery are usually between 3 months and 18 months old. The child is anesthetized -- not awake -- during the surgery. Usually he can go home the same day.

If doctors missed your son’s hypospadias, it still can be treated later. It’s usually obvious because of the direction his pee comes out.

Surgery to fix this condition is highly successful. It is also works on adults who have the problem, but it is more difficult, and not as common.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on August 15, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: “Facts about Hypospadias.”

Cleveland Clinic, Diseases and Conditions, Hypospadias: “Hypospadias.”

Hypospadias and Epispadias Association Inc.

Mayo Clinic: “Diseases and Conditions, Hypospadias.”

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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