Hypospadias is a common birth defect. Hypospadias occurs when the opening of the urethra (meatus) is not in its usual place, but instead is located on the underside of the penis. The urethra is the tube that empties urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. The urethra normally opens at the tip of the penis. In mild cases of hypospadias, the urethra opens near the tip of the penis. In other cases, the urethra opens just below the ridge of the penis. It can also occur in the middle of the shaft or the base of the penis. Less often, it opens on or behind the scrotum.
The cause of hypospadias is not known. It may be passed down from parent to child (hereditary).
- Using fertility treatments to get pregnant.
- Mothers age 35 or older.
- More common in babies of low birth weight.
- In mild cases, there may be no symptoms.
- Passing urine in abnormal directions or spraying.
- A downward curved penis (chordee) when having an erection.
- A urethral opening that is larger than normal.
- A hooded appearance at the head of the penis due to missing foreskin, leaving the tip of the penis exposed.
- The diagnosis is usually made during a physical exam.
- Blood tests.
Surgery is the only treatment for hypospadias. It is best if the surgery is done before 18 months of age. The goal of surgery is to create a normal urethra and urethral opening at or near the tip of the penis. Curvature of the penis is corrected to allow for normal sexual intercourse and fertility. The penis is made to look and function normally.
More than one surgery may be needed over time to maintain the correct location of the urethral opening. After surgery, long-term follow-up with the health care provider is required. The health care provider will check to see if any problems come back again, such as difficulty with urination, curving of the penis, or tightening of the tube where urine exits the body (urethral stricture).
Follow these instructions at home:
- If your child will be having surgery, do not have him circumcised before the surgery, including at birth. The foreskin is usually needed for the corrective surgery.
- Have your child drink enough fluids to keep his urine clear or pale yellow.
- Keep all follow-up visits as directed by your child’s health care provider. This may include numerous post-surgery checkups to watch for any changes that would require another surgery.
Contact a health care provider if:
- Your child vomits.
- Your child has trouble urinating or is urinating more or less than normal.
- Your child’s urine is:
- Your child is irritable.
- Your child is not eating or drinking.
- Your child seems to have pain in his abdomen or his back.
Seek immediate treatment if:
- Your child who is younger than 3 months old has a temperature of 100°F (38°C) or higher.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider.