Overview of Hypospadias

Hypospadias is a condition that is present at birth (congenital) in which the opening of the tube that carries urine and, in males, semen from the body (the urethra) is located below the normal location. This is caused by incomplete development of the urethra in utero between 8 and 20 weeks of gestation.

Various degrees of hypospadias result in an opening located anywhere along the length of the urethra. Degrees of hypospadias are classified according to location, including anterior (50% of cases), middle (20% of cases), and posterior (30% of cases). Hypospadias may also cause a curvature of the penis (chordee). Chordee is sometimes evident only with an erection. Severe chordee may result in the inability to perform sexual intercourse.

Without surgical correction, severe hypospadias may result in the inability to urinate standing and infertility.

Incidence and Prevalence of Hypospadias

Hypospadias occurs in approximately 1 in 300 males and 1 in 500,000 females in the United States. Worldwide incidence is rising, partially due to an increase in the number of minor cases being reported. The condition is more common in infants of Jewish and Italian descent.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 10 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 30 Jun 2011