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Hypospadias happens in boys when the urethra (the tube where urine leaves the body) opens on the underside of the penis instead of the tip.
Hypospadias is somewhat common, occurring in one out of 200 boys. It is more common in infants whose families have a history of hypospadias. Other factors that can make it more likely include:
- Having a mother whose maternal age is over 35, or a mother who had in vitro fertilization
- Having had fetal growth problems during the pregnancy
The crucial development of the child's penis happens between the ninth and twelfth weeks of pregnancy. During this time, male hormones guide the body in forming the urethra and foreskin. A malfunction in these hormones may cause hypospadias.
The most common sign of hypospadias is the opening of the urethra on the underside of the penis rather than the tip. Other symptoms include a downward curvature of the penis and foreskin that only covers part of the head of the penis.
In most cases of hypospadias, the urethra's opening is on the underside of the head of the penis. In less frequent and more severe cases, the opening may be at the middle or base of the penis or within the scrotum.
Doctors often diagnose hypospadias at birth. In some cases, slight displacement of the urethral opening may be subtle and harder to identify.
Doctors correct hypospadias with surgery. The surgery reconstructs the opening of the urethra and can straighten a curved penis. The child may have the surgery once he's at least four months old.
Hypospadias that is toward the base of the penis or near the scrotum is harder to correct. In these cases, the child may need more than one surgery.
Surgical results are usually excellent with an experienced surgeon. After recovering from surgery, most boys have normal function and a more typical-looking penis. As they become adults, their sexual function is typically not affected.
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If your child has been diagnosed, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices.