What is Hypospadias?
Hypospadias is a birth defect of the penis in which the urinary opening is not at the tip but rather on the underside of the penis. It affects approximately one out of every 300-500 born male babies and is one of the most commonly seen genital conditions in the U.S.
Causes and Risk Factors for Hypospadias
The exact cause of hypospadias is not known, but research has shown that it may be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Complications during pregnancy, such as a mother’s exposure to certain toxins, can also increase the risk.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Hypospadias
The most obvious symptom of hypospadias is a curved penis that has an abnormal opening along the underside. Other symptoms include: a scrotum that is split in two, a foreskin that does not cover the entire head of the penis, and a penis that is shorter and has an abnormal shape. If a boy has any of these symptoms, he should be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
If a boy is diagnosed with hypospadias, he will likely need a surgical procedure to correct the position of the urinary opening and reconstruct the penis. Surgery is usually safe and successful, and is typically done on boys who are between three and 18 months of age. After the surgery, most boys do not experience any problems urinating and their genitals look normal.
Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to prevent hypospadias from occurring. However, pregnant women can reduce their risk by avoiding certain toxins, such as certain pesticides and industrial chemicals, that could potentially cause birth defects. It is also important for pregnant women to get the recommended pre-natal care.
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