Most boys are born with a penis that looks normal and works well. But some boys are born with a common condition called hypospadias. Hypospadias forms a penis that not only doesn’t work well but also doesn’t look normal. Pediatric urologists have come up with many surgical techniques to fix this problem. The following information should help you speak to your son’s urologist.
The main roles of the penis are to carry urine and sperm out of the body. The urethra is the tube that carries urine and sperm through the penis to the outside. The opening to the outside is called the “meatus.” Both tasks are easier when the meatus is at the tip of the head (“glans”) of the penis.
Hypospadias is a condition where the meatus isn’t at the tip of the penis. Instead, the hole may be any place along the underside of the penis. The meatus (hole) is most often found near the end of the penis (“distal” position). But it may also be found from the middle of the penile shaft to the base of the penis, or even within the scrotum (“proximal” positions). Over 80% of boys with this health issue have distal hypospadias. In 15% of those cases, the penis also curves downward slightly, a condition called “chordee.” When the meatus opens further down the shaft, curvature occurs in more than 50% of patients. Hypospadias is a common birth defect found in up to 1 in every 200 boys.
In most cases, hypospadias is the only developmental problem in these infants and doesn’t imply there are other flaws in the urinary system or other organs.