Hypospadias is a congenital disability in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis. The urethra is the tube through which urine drains from your bladder and exits the body. This common condition is generally diagnosed right after birth while the mother is still in the hospital. Surgery typically restores the standard appearance but is not always necessary.
Like many congenital disabilities, doctors are not exactly sure why some baby boys have hypospadias. Theories include genetic factors, fertility treatments, the mother's age and weight, exposure to smoking, and premature birth. Women can reduce the chance of hypospadias in their newborn by maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy and taking enough folic acid each day.
Many mothers may worry that hypospadias is painful for their sons. However, this condition won’t cause any physical pain and does not adversely affect urination. That said, if left untreated, hypospadias may make it difficult to direct the urine stream and can make some adolescents and adult men self-conscious.
Not every boy with hypospadias requires surgery. If it is a very mild case, doctors may determine the condition will not have a significant impact on his life. Often, parents of boys with even minor abnormalities will still opt for surgery for cosmetic reasons. A conversation between you and your medical provider will help determine the best route.
Surgery remains the only way to resolve hypospadias. The operation will address the urinary difficulties, straighten and repair the penis for cosmetic purposes, and ensure full function as an adult. Although the thought of your baby having a procedure can be scary, it is common with rare complications and poses minimal risks.
When the surgery occurs largely depends on the kind of hypospadias your child has. It also depends on whether he was diagnosed at birth, as most boys are, or later. Generally, if surgery is necessary, it is recommended between four and six months old. Your medical provider will explain the entire process, but it is quite simple.
Likewise, the kind of care after surgery depends on the time of diagnosis. In general, however, following the one-step operation, you can take your baby home. Some pain and fever are possible for a day or two after the procedure. Parents can expect follow-up appointments with the doctor.
Babies born with hypospadias that requires surgery cannot receive a circumcision at birth due to the abnormalities of the urethra and foreskin. However, if you wish to have your son circumcised, this can be done later; some even do it the same day as the hypospadias procedure, while in the operating room. Sometimes the foreskin may be needed for tissue grafts during the operation.
One of the most frequently asked questions involving surgery, especially for infants, regards post-surgery complications. Common problems after a hypospadias operation include mild pain, spasms, and blood spots. An infection at the site of the operation is also possible.
Most medical providers recommend hypospadias surgery long before potty training begins. Having the surgery so young means there will be plenty of time to heal before the child reaches potty training age, which is rarely earlier than 18 months. The operation should not impact potty training at all.
A doctor can perform hypospadias surgery for cosmetic reasons, even if it’s not medically necessary. It is common for physicians to perform hypospadias repairs at a young age to prevent embarrassing social factors later in life. Physicians may perform the surgery to straighten the penis and remove the excess foreskin. It is ultimately your decision whether you would like your son to have the procedure.
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