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Your child has been diagnosed with hypospadias. In the U.S., about 1 in every 300 boys is born with this condition. It is usually not serious. It can almost always be corrected with surgery if needed. This sheet tells you more about your child’s condition.
The tube that carries urine out of the body is called the urethra. It runs inside the penis to the opening where urine leaves the body (urethral meatus). Hypospadias occurs when a defect in your child’s urethra results in the abnormal location of the urethral meatus. Normally, the urethral meatus is located at the head of the penis (glans). But with hypospadias, the opening is on the underside of the penis, down near the scrotum, or in the area between the scrotum and the anus.
Hypospadias is congenital, meaning a child is born with it. In most cases, it is unclear why the urethra didn’t form properly while the child developed in the womb.
A child with hypospadias has a urethral meatus in an abnormal location. He may also have a penis that curves downward (chordee) and foreskin that doesn’t cover the glans (dorsal hood).
Hypospadias may be seen at your newborn’s physical exam. In some cases, tests are done to rule out other possible problems. Your doctor will discuss with you any tests that are needed.
In mild cases, the urethra may not need correction. In moderate to severe cases, surgery may be done to correct how the penis looks. Boys with hypospadias should not be circumcised as newborns. This is so the foreskin can be used to repair the urethra in the future. The repair surgery is usually done when the child is between 6-18 months old. During surgery, the penis is straightened if needed. Then, skin from the foreskin is taken. It is used to create a urethra that reaches to the tip of the penis. In some cases, more than one surgery is needed.
Left untreated, mild hypospadias often carries no long-term concerns. But in more serious cases, the condition can make it difficult for the child to urinate normally. He may need to sit down to urinate. In severe cases, an adult male with untreated hypospadias may have trouble delivering sperm and getting a woman pregnant. But, after surgery, there are often no long-term problems.