Hypospadias – What to know about this common male birth defect

Hypospadias – What to know about this common male birth defect

A common birth defect affecting one in every 250-300 male babies is hypospadias.  This birth defect is where the urethra, the tube that travels through the penis and carries urine as well as sperm out of the body, is not located at the tip of the penis but rather forms on another location – on the shaft of the penis or on the scrotum.  Untreated hypospadias can result in problems later in life such as requiring a man to have to sit to urinate or difficulties with sexual intercourse.

Other features of hypospadias seen in males may include:

  • Chordee or where the head of the penis curves downward or upward at the junction of the head and shaft of the penis. This curvature is most noticeable during an erection.
  • 10% of male babies with hypospadias will have one testicle that does not fully descend into the scrotum.
  • The foreskin which covers the head of the penis is incompletely developed.

Causes of hypospadias

The cause of hypospadias is unknown but there does seem to be a 21 percent more likelihood of it happening if another close family member such as the father or a brother was born with the same defect.  

During the first eight weeks of pregnancy, male and female genitalia are similar.  During the eighth week is when the male penis begins to develop with hypospadias occurring between the weeks nine and 12.

There are certain factors of the mother that may increase the risk of hypospadias developing:

  • Obesity
  • Over the age of 35
  • Using fertility treatment to help with conception.  It is theorized that when a woman is exposed to progesterone used during the fertilization process, it may increase the risk.
  • Any use of other hormones before or during pregnancy included pesticide exposure.
  • Smoking

Diagnosing hypospadias

Shortly after a male baby is born is when hypospadias is diagnosed.  Doctors will check for hypospadias in all male babies after birth as the abnormality is easily confirmed.  Once the diagnosis is made, the family will be referred to a pediatric urologist who can treat the baby.

Treatment of hypospadias

The way to treat hypospadias is with surgery. A urologist can usually correct the condition of the baby sometime between 6 to 18 months of age.  The surgery is performed at an early age as it is easier to take care of the surgery site and with it being corrected under a general anesthetic.  Also performing the surgery at a very young age reduces any psychological trauma they may experience at an older age.  

The surgery is done to correct curvature of the penis and to place the opening of the urethra in the correct spot. After the surgery, the baby may have a small catheter (tube) to help drain urine which may stay in place for a few days to two weeks.  To reduce the risk of infection, antibiotics will be prescribed to along with pain medications to lessen discomfort.  

Are there ways to reduce hypospadias?

There are no guarantees but there are a few things a woman can do to possibly reduce the risk of hypospadias by practicing healthy habits such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Obtaining a 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid each day
  • Refrain from smoking
  • Have regular prenatal checkups throughout the pregnancy

Outlook for hypospadias

Fortunately, the outlook for male babies who are born with hypospadias is good.  There tends to be few complications after surgery as long as the parents are taking good care of the surgical site and are keeping regular doctor follow-up appointments.  The surgical repair for hypospadias will last a lifetime leading to normal, healthy functioning of the penis.  


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 


Dr. David Samadi | Robotic Prostate Surgeon


ProstateCancer911.com is a resource created by Dr. David Samadi in order to raise awareness and get more men to receive prostate cancer treatment. The information is strictly general and you should always discuss with your doctor issues concerning your health.


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