What is Hypospadias?
Hypospadias is a birth defect in men where the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the tip. The urethra is the tube that drains out the urine from the bladder.
Hypospadias is common and harmless. It doesn’t create any difficulty for your infant. Usually, surgery is undertaken to restore the normal appearance of the child’s penis. After a successful surgery, most males can lead a normal life with normal urination and reproduction.
There are usually three Hypospadias types, these include:
- Subcoronal – When the urethra opening is near the head of the penis
- Midshaft – when the urethra opening is along the shaft of the penis
- Penoscrotal – When the urethral opening is on the scrotum or where the scrotum and penis meet
Hypospadias symptoms vary from individual to individual depending upon the positioning of the urethra opening. Normally, the urethra opening is within the head of the penis, but in Hypospadias the opening is below the head or in some cases, it is beneath the scrotum. Some of the common signs and symptoms of Hypospadias include:
- Urethra opening at a location other than the head of the penis
- The curve of the penis is downward
- Abnormal urination spraying
- The hooded appearance of the penis
Who is at Risk?
As Hypospadias is a birth defect, the Hypospadias risk factors vary from individual to individual. Sometimes the risk factors are associated with certain conditions. Certain red flags for when an individual might be at risk are:
- More common in infants with a family history of Hypospadias
- Certain gene variations play a role in the disruption of hormones and the formation of male genitals
- Infants of women older than 35 years have a higher risk
- Exposure to chemicals during pregnancy can lead to Hypospadias of the infants
Hypospadias is a condition present at the time of birth. As such Hypospadias causes can be traced to hormone stimulation of the infant or several factors related to the mother of the infant. The causes could be:
- Genetic disorder
- Women with a family history of Hypospadias are at a higher risk of giving birth to infants with Hypospadias
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to Hypospadias of the infant
- Exposure to industrial chemicals, pesticides, etc during pregnancy can lead to Hypospadias of the infant
How is Hypospadias diagnosed?
Hypospadias diagnosis is don’t by the doctor right at the time of the birth of the baby. Usually, a physical examination is enough for the doctors to understand the condition, but in rare cases, certain advanced tests are undertaken.
- Physical Examination: A specialized genital and urinary conditions surgeon or a Pediatric Urologist conducts a Physical Examination of the infant penis to diagnose Hypospadias
- Extensive examination: Often the testicles arent felt during the physical examination and the urethra appears abnormal, multidisciplinary teams are recommended for advanced study and diagnosis.
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How is Hypospadias treated?
Hypospadias treatment depends on the intensity of the individual case and the underlying cause. Some forms of Hypospadias are so minor that they do not require surgery. The doctors design the treatment around individual cases and their complications.
For the treatment of Hypospadias, doctors undertake surgeries where the urethral opening is repositioned and if deemed important, the shaft of the penis is straightened. This surgery is conducted when the infant is about 6-12 months old.
If Hypospadias makes the penis looks abnormal, circumcision should not be done. If Hypospadias is diagnosed during circumcision, the procedure should be completed first. A pediatric urologist is the best person to consult and design treatment for Hypospadias.
How can Hypospadias be prevented?
Hypospadias prevention is subject to the conditions the baby is exposed to during pregnancy. As such, mothers can reduce the risk of Hypospadias for their children. Some of the preventive measures include:
- Maintaining a healthy body and weight during pregnancy
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol 6 months before or during pregnancy
- Consume at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily
- Maintain a healthy and active lifestyle
- Manage stress and anxiety
- Keep your hormone levels in check