What is Hypospadias?

Multitudinous is mankind’s maladies! Many do occur after birth, but some are congenital. Of the latter category is hypospadias, a disorder that afflicts male babies.

What Exactly is This Disorder?

The prefix hypo- is derived from Greek and carries the meaning “beneath, under.” Of course, it’s a prefix commonly found in the naming of several diseases or medical conditions — hypothyroidism; hypolipoproteinemia; hypothermia; etc. But from whence is spadias? Spadias, likewise originating from Greek, expresses the concept of “sword,” which, in the medical moniker in question, is a symbolic reference to the “penis,” the male reproductive and urinary organ.

Now, when hypo is used in naming maladies, it intends to convey the ideas of “underactive,” “under-represented,” or “underdeveloped” (as in “malformed”). The condition being considered herein entails all these aspects, perhaps. Whereas normal penile development has the urethral canal leading to the male sexual organ’s tip’s center, the same canal the body uses to dispense semen as well as urine, this medical malady causes the penile aperture (a.k.a. meatus) to occur other than at the normal location.

In the pregnancy phase of 8 to 14 (another source states 9 to 12) weeks, the male baby may be afflicted by one of three types of the disorder: (1.) subcoronal — the aperture being oddly situated at the underside of the corona of the glans (a.k.a. head) (common); (2.) midshaft — the aperture situated somewhere in the shaft’s underside’s middle (less common); or (3.) penoscrotal — the aperture situated at the juncture of the penis and the scrotum, in the scrotum, or beneath it (quite seldom).

Resultant Complications

This deformity will undoubtedly deal a blow to the mature onlooker’s psyche, even though the child himself is spared from this much while yet young. Quite a different tale pertains to his bodily functions, though. Depending on which type is extant, urinating while standing may be a challenge, if not impossible. Also, if there’s penile malformation and there was no medical intervention, sexual intercourse when of age and perhaps fertility will be negatively impacted.

If the boy needs to be put in a social setting like kindergarten or elementary school, he will need to use the restroom, so special instructions will need to be conveyed to administration and staff who must be well-prepared and compassionate to properly care for the child.

Causes and Risk Factors

In such a matter some may embark upon “God blaming,” but genetic and congenital hormonal malfunctions have rather been pinpointed by researchers. Women, probably more so those with a family history of this disorder, are cautioned that pregnancy over 35 could occasion it. Another thing brought into question has been the mother’s exposure to environmental hazards. Eyed likewise as suspicious in the matter: fertility treatments.

Current Treatments

Judaism and Islam both practice ceremonial circumcision of their male infants, and then there are parents who elect to circumcise merely for hygienic benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discourages the practice lest the foreskin is needed for performing the surgical penile reconstruction, however. Needless to say, such a prohibition raises the problem of infringement on parental rights and religious liberties.

Yet are all treatments limited to the foreskin’s employment? No! According to the American Urological Association, medical technologies and techniques for correcting this disorder have come a long way from the late 1800s and, anyway, apart from tissue from inside the child’s mouth is a possible source for grafting material, circumcision can even be accomplished in the course of the pediatric urologist doing what he or she does to help.

Speaking of urologists specializing in this disorder, the North American PARC Urology Hypospadias Center is a source of not only information but also of treatments sought out even by those of other continents.