What is hypospadias?

Hypospadias in children: Overview

Hypospadias (say "hy-puh-SPAY-dee-us") is a birth defect. It is when the opening of the tube (urethra) that leads from the bladder is not at the tip of the penis. Instead, the opening is on the underside of the penis.

Your child will need surgery. The doctor will make a new opening. This lets urine drain as it should through the penis. Your doctor may wait a few months to do the surgery. The doctor will want to make sure that your child can handle the pain medicine.


Hypospadias is a condition in which the opening of the urethra—the tube that carries urine to the outside of the body—develops irregularly. Someone with hypospadias is born with the opening of the urethra located on the underside of the penis, below the tip.

The exact cause of hypospadias is not fully understood, but most cases are thought to be related to abnormal hormonal stimulation of the fetus. Hypospadias develops between the 8th and 12th week of fetal development.

Hypospadias is treated with surgery to correct the placement of the opening of the urethra.

Sometimes genetic testing is needed to confirm the sex of a child born with this condition.

What are the symptoms of hypospadias?

Mild hypospadias usually does not cause symptoms, especially in newborns and young children. If it's more severe, a person may have problems such as spraying urine, having difficulty directing the urine stream, and having erections that are not straight. In some cases, this defect may make it impossible to urinate while standing.

How is hypospadias 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.

How is hypospadias diagnosed?

Hypospadias is usually diagnosed during a physical exam. If severe hypospadias is suspected, an excretory urogram may be done. This test uses X-rays to look at the urinary tract. It may be used to check for other abnormalities or to check the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder (ureters).

How can you care for your child who has hypospadias?

  • Be safe with medicines. Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if your child has any problems with a medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Go to all doctor visits. The doctor will check your child for problems.

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 problems.

What is hypospadias?

Hypospadias is a 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.

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