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What is Hypospadias?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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Hypospadias is a condition that occurs when a male is born with the urethra opening located underneath the penis. The urethra is a tube that directs urine from the bladder and out of the body and is normally located at the tip of the penis in males. Males who have hypospadias typically have it surgically treated while they are still infants in order to prevent lifelong difficulties with urination and sexual activity.

The most common symptom of the condition is a penis in which urine expels from any location other than the penis tip. Urine will most often come out underneath the penis head, but in more severe cases it may expel from the base of the penis or even out of the scrotum. A male with the condition may also have a penis that appears sharply curved in and down toward the body. A misplaced urethra can result in lack of control of while urinating, which can end up spraying urine in various directions.

Hypospadias does not often have a clear cause. It can be a condition a boy is born with, although it may be more likely to occur if other male relatives have had the condition as well. Women at the end of their childbearing years or who use fertility drugs to become pregnant may be more likely to give birth to sons with the condition, which may be due to fluctuating hormone levels.

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Surgery can be performed in order to treat hypospadias. A surgeon can remove pieces of tissue from the end of the penis or the insides of the mouth and use them to redirect the urethra into the correct location. The surgery is usually done on male infants, but can be performed on adult males if the condition was never discovered at a younger age. In rare cases, the surgery can result in holes near the urethra reconstruction site which can cause urine to leak out the sides of the urethra; however, this can be fixed with a second surgery.

Hypospadias can result in complications if not immediately corrected. If it is not treated, it can make urinating difficult for a male, especially for young boys who are just learning how to use the toilet on their own. Depending on the improper location of the urethra, aiming a stream of urine into a toilet can be a challenge or even physically impossible. The condition can also make sexual intercourse physically difficult due to the curved appearance of the penis it causes.

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