Hypospadias is a male birth
defect in which the opening of the tube that carries urine from the body (urethra) develops abnormally, usually on the underside
of the penis. The opening can occur anywhere from just below the end of the
penis to the scrotum.
What causes hypospadias?
In most cases, the cause
of this birth defect is not fully understood. Treatment with hormones such as
progesterone during pregnancy may increase the risk of hypospadias. Certain
hormonal fluctuations, such as failure of the fetal testes to produce enough
testosterone or the failure of the body to respond to
testosterone, increase the risk of hypospadias and other genetic
What are the symptoms?
Mild hypospadias usually
does not cause symptoms, especially in newborns and young children. If not
surgically corrected, older children and adults may complain of difficulty
directing their urinary stream and spraying urine. More severe cases of
hypospadias make it impossible to urinate while standing.
usually diagnosed during the physical exam of a newborn. A test that may
be useful if hypospadias is suspected is an excretory urogram. This test uses
X-rays to provide pictures of the urinary tract. It is
used to check for other congenital abnormalities of the
kidneys or the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys
to the bladder (ureters).
How is it treated?
Hypospadias is sometimes
treated with surgery to correct the placement of the urethral opening, usually
during the first year of life. There are several different types of surgery. These may include repositioning of the urethra, correcting the placement of the
urethral opening in the head of the penis, and reconstructing the skin of the
area around the urethral opening. The foreskin may be needed for
surgical repair. So a baby with hypospadias should not be
more likely to occur in older children and adults. They can include bleeding,
infection, narrowing of the urethra (stricture), and curvature of the
Most males are able to urinate successfully from a standing
position after surgical treatment of this condition.
Other Places To Get Help
AUA Foundation: The Official Foundation of the American Urological
1000 Corporate Boulevard
Linthicum, MD 21090
UrologyHealth.org is a website written by urologists
for patients. Visitors can find specific topics by using the "search"
The website provides information about adult and
pediatric urologic topics, including kidney, bladder, and prostate conditions.
You can find a urologist, sign up for a free quarterly newsletter, or click on
the Urology A–Z page to find materials about urologic problems.
KidsHealth for Parents, Children, and
10140 Centurion Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32256
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health, from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.