How do I tell if my infant son has a micropenis?
Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng answers your questions about sexual health
Q: My child is four months old and I think his penis is very small compared to other kids his age. I need information.
A: A micropenis is a penis that is small and can happen on its own. It can happen as part of a syndrome along with other disorders.
A hormonal disorder can lead to poor growth of the sexual organs and can include problems with the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus in the brain.
The penis is measured by stretching it from the tip to the base, with care to not damage the tissue. Micropenis is not the same as a buried or hidden penis and other urological disorders.
A geneticist, a paediatric urologist or endocrinologist may be consulted for intervention, however, many children will most likely present to a primary health-care facility where a physical examination will be completed, and blood investigations done to check for a hormone or genetic disorder.
In some cases, depending on the cause, a micropenis may also have a low sperm count affecting future fertility.
The management will depend on how severe the symptoms are and how the urological functioning is affected.
Age and general health will also determine the management of the condition.
Careful discussions with health-care providers about the risks, benefits and possible side effects of hormonal and surgical treatments must be had.
The biggest stressor for parents and caregivers of children diagnosed with micropenis is the associated social stigma.
Sometimes this may affect the decision to opt for surgery, however, extensive surgical correction is not always indicated or beneficial, especially if the genitals have good urological functioning.
The use of hormonal treatment, largely determined by the cause, has better long-term psychological and sexual outcomes.
• Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sexual and reproductive health practice, Disa Clinic, safersex.co.za.
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