Condition Description

Hypospadius (pronounced HY-po-SPAY-dee-us) is a common birth defect where a baby boy's urethra does not extend to the tip of the penis and instead opens on the underside of the penis or even below the penis (in the area called the perineum). Most boys will also have a condition called chordee where there is a fibrous band of tissue along the length of the penis that pulls it downward, especially apparent during erection. Some boys are also have undescended testicles, inguinal hernias or hydroceles.

During fetal life between the 6th and 14th week, the embryonic cells do not come together to fuse and close the urethral grove to form a tube for urine passage to the surface from the bladder. Instead, the opening can be anywhere along the underside. 85% of the time the opening is near the tip of the penis (in the glans or corona of the penis). Affected boys should not be circumcised because the foreskin will be used in the surgical repair. The surgery is typically performed between 6 and 18 months of age. The surgical correction of the chordee and the urethra is generally very successful, resulting in good function and appearance.

The cause of hypospadius is unknown but it is slightly more common in some families. There is a possible relationship between the mother being exposed to estrogens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as PCBs.

This is a common condition, occurring in 1 of every 300 baby boys. Our program has been tracking hypospadias among live births in select counties since 2005 and gradually are expanding statewide.

  • Using data from births to Hennepin and Ramsey county residents between 2007-2011, we found that 54.6 babies were born with hypospadias per 10,000 births.
  • Using this data, we estimate about 383 babies are born with hypospadias every year in Minnesota.

Parental education and support are essential, and local, regional and national organizations may be very helpful.

Condition specific organizations

Additional information and resources for families are available.