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What Is a Micropenis?

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  • Written By: Melissa Barrett
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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A micropenis is a penis that is otherwise normally formed but much smaller than average. In infant males, this is indicated by a length of less than 0.75 inches (1.9 centimeters) when stretched. In adult males, the qualifying measurement is 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) when fully erect. There are many conditions that can cause an unusually small penis, but generally, the production or assimilation of testosterone is involved.

Male hypogonadism is a broad medical term describing decreased testosterone production. There are many diagnoses with hypogonadism as a symptom, and a majority of those conditions that begin at infancy or adolescence can result in a micropenis. Hypogonadism is further divided into primary and secondary classes.

In primary hypogonadism, reduced testosterone levels result from a malfunction within the male testicles. When a micropenis presents in infant males, it is sometimes the result of hypogonadism caused by Klinefelter syndrome. Individuals with Klinefelter syndrome have an extra X chromosome, which often results in malformation of the testicles and decreased testosterone production.

Any injury to the testicles before or during early adolescence can cause primary hypogonadism and ultimately result in a micropenis. Injury from physical trauma is obviously dangerous, but damage to the testicles from a mumps infection is also possible. Excess iron levels in the blood can also, in rare cases, lead to underdevelopment.

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In secondary hypogonadism, the testicles do not receive the signal to produce testosterone. In these cases, there is usually a malfunction in the pituitary or hypothalamus gland. This can be caused a genetic disorder such as Kallmann syndrome or be the result a number of pituitary disorders. Obesity has also been aligned with secondary hypogonadism.

In infancy, a micropenis is often treated with short-term injections of testosterone. If the penis shows improved growth after three months, it is assumed that increased hormones in puberty will also result in increased length. For adult males, some potential to increase size has been shown using surgical implants. Some herbal remedies have been marketed with guarantees to extend penis length. There are no independent scientific studies to adequately prove these claims.

In the past, parents of a boy born with a micropenis were sometimes advised to have their child undergo gender reassignment surgery. In rare cases, when the child had both a penis and a vagina, this advice was almost universal. As serious emotional effects began to emerge in these children at adolescence, the practice was reexamined. It has since been largely abandoned.

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anon942138
Post 9

@anon337861: You have my sympathy brother! I fall slightly out of the micropenis range but I know what you've probably gone through. I grew up suffering from all the locker room teasing and relationship issues. By the way, I began taking testosterone about a year ago and feel a lot better physically. That does nothing for size though. God bless!

anon337861
Post 8

I have a micropenis due to Kallmann's Syndrome. I am also infertile. To say that I have issues because of my condition is an understatement. People with micropenis are real. Most people probably know someone who suffers from it and they obviously keep it a secret. I really need help dealing with this but it's so embarrassing, I can't talk to anyone I know about it.

mabeT
Post 4

I have heard of sexual reassignments for people who were born deformed at birth; basically they had both vagina and a penis.

The penis, I guess, was easier to get rid of surgically and so doctors suggested that the parents do this early on. I guess they sided with the nurture part of nature versus nurture.

This proved to be devastating to many of these young ‘women’ who actually felt like men on the inside. As sad as it is to say, though, I do sort of understand where the doctors were coming from.

How would you be able to raise a happy, healthy child who had both sex organs? At the same time, how do you

choose to amputate one of their major body parts?

Regardless, I can understand the whys and hows and such that go along with this kind of sexual reassignment, even though I don’t really condone it.

But why in the world would somebody choose this route just because a baby has a very small penis? This seems a little like a huge overreaction to me.

Maybe there is something I do not understand, but it seems like it would be fully functional later in life, just small. And isn't there a good possibility that it might grow?

indemnifyme
Post 3

@Azuza - I've seen some of those documentaries too. People face such a stigma when they get a sex change I would definitely want to avoid a gender reassignment surgery for a baby.

One thing that jumped out at me from this article was the implants. I know this can obviously be a really sensitive issue for men but I think a lot of study needs to be done before these implants are widely used. It just doesn't sound safe to me!

blackDagger
Post 2

I learned so many things in this article that my mind is reeling. First of all, I have never heard the term micropenis before; but it is apparently what it sounds like.

I suppose one key thing for me was the information between the lines, though. I have three sisters, and no brothers. I had never seen a baby boy’s penis until I had my own son. I had no idea what he was supposed to look like when he was born in terms of size.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit this to a doctor, and as he looked really normal and nobody made a big fuss over his genitals, I didn’t come right out and ask

if he was a regular little boy. I just assumed that if there was a problem someone would have told me.

The thing is that now I know that he was just right at birth because of the dimensions given in the article, and since everything seems to be growing in proportion to his body he is just a happy, healthy young boy.

For a mother who knows little to nothing about little boys, this brings a good deal of comfort.

Azuza
Post 1

Wow! It seems a little extreme to have your childs gender reassigned because of this issue. I am really glad this practice has fallen out of favor.

I've seen a few documentaries on people who had their gender reassigned at birth for whatever reason. They usually end up feeling like something "isn't quite right" with their gender later on. Sometimes they even end up getting a sex change as an adult. It seems like it would be a lot easier to just leave a baby with a micropenis a boy and try hormonal treatments or something like that.

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