Hypospadias is a birth defect that a baby boy can develop while still in the womb. It is a condition that affects about 1 in every 250 babies born worldwide. The condition is characterized by wrong positioning of urethra (urinary opening).
The penis naturally develops like other parts of the body during pregnancy. Development of the penis involves actions by hormones that encourage formation of the penis as a whole including urethra and foreskin that covers urethra opening at the tip of penis.
It turns out that the urethra opening in some babies is not at the tip of the penis as it should be. The urethra instead opens either near the tip, at the mid section or at the base of the penis. The opening in most cases is on the underside of the penis.
The main symptom of hypospadias is wrong positioning of urethra opening. Other symptoms include hooding of the penis, spraying of urine when a baby urinates and a downward curving of the penis.
There are also some cases where the foreskin does not develop completely and fails to wrap the penis fully. This results in exposure of the glans. It is also possible that a baby’s scrotum get raised instead of hanging as is the case with babies born without the condition.
What causes this hypospadias remains unknown. However, medical experts believe that it is genetically linked babies born with the condition are from families where males have medical history of the condition.
Hormones that play a role in development of the penis are also believed to contribute to development of the condition. It is believed that a malfunction of the hormones can occur, leading to incomplete development of urethra including incomplete development of the foreskin, which causes the condition.
Most cases of hypospadias are noticed and diagnosed soon after a baby is born. However, hypospadias that develops close to the tip of the penis can be overlooked. Such cases only become prominent when a baby has grown. There are also babies who live with the condition right into adulthood.
Treating the condition involves surgical procedures. The number of necessary surgical procedures depends on whether the condition is minor or severe. While the condition that develops near tip of the penis is considered minor, that which develops as the mid-section of the penis or at the base can be very complicated.
Generally, surgical procedures are always delayed until an infant attains age of at least 3 or 6 months depending on his general health status. Whether a minor or complicated condition, surgical procedures employed aim at restoring both the appearance of the penis. This usually involves extending the urethra and creating an opening at the tip of penis, grafting of penile skin to wrap the penis fully and straightening the penis in case it is curved. It turns out that surgical procedures in infants and babies are usually very successful with such babies growing to live normal sexual life compared to surgical procedures in adults.