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  • Hypospadias is a birth defect. It means that the opening of the urethra is on the underside of your child’s penis instead of at the tip of the penis.
  • Your child may need surgery to correct the position of the opening.
  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how long it will take your child to recover and how to take care of your child at home.


What is hypospadias?

Hypospadias is a common and relatively minor birth defect. It means that the opening of the urethra is on the underside of your child’s penis instead of at the tip of the penis. The urethra is the tube that drains urine from the bladder. When your child has hypospadias, his urethra may be:

  • On the head of the penis but closer to the edge, rather than in the center
  • In the middle of the shaft of the penis, on the underside
  • Near the scrotum (the sac of loose skin below the penis)

What is the cause?

The exact cause is not known. It’s more common in babies with a family history of hypospadias and may be related to a problem with hormones as a baby develops in the uterus.

What are the symptoms?

A child with hypospadias has an abnormal spray of urine, which means that the urine comes out from some place other than the tip of the penis. Other signs of this problem may include:

  • A foreskin that looks like a hood on the end of the penis
  • A downward curve of the penis

How is it diagnosed?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. The diagnosis is often made when your baby is first born, before he leaves the hospital.

How is it treated?

In general, hypospadias causes no immediate problems for baby boys, and surgery can be delayed until the baby is older. The treatment is surgery, usually done by a pediatric urologist when your child is 6 to 12 months old. With surgery, the urethra can be put in the correct position and, if needed, the penis can be straightened. Usually, circumcision will also be delayed until the first surgery is done.

In most cases, your child will be able to urinate normally after surgery.

How can I take care of my child?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider. Ask your provider:

  • How long it will take for your child to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2018-10-29
Last reviewed: 2018-10-19
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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