A Micropenis is a condition in which the phallus of a male is underdeveloped, leading to very small genitalia. Apart from the physical ramifications of the condition, there can also be some social humiliation felt by those who are suffering from it.
It’s generally defined as the member being under seven centimeters in an aroused state, which makes it roughly half or smaller the size of the average member. The condition is generally only diagnosed when there is no other alteration or ambiguity about the rest of the genitalia. In other words, when only the penis is undersized.
It’s quite often recognizable shortly after birth, and treatments can be undertaken in order to minimize the impact of the condition on the patient. Let’s delve a little bit into what this condition it is, what problems it causes for the sufferers, and some possible solutions which currently exist.
The strict medical definition of micropenis is a phallus that is under seven centimeters, about two and three quarter inches, while erect. It’s only diagnosed in the instance that the individual is completely biologically male, while people who are intersex may also have the condition it is a different diagnosis entirely.
In infants, a penis under three quarters of an inch is considered reasonable for a diagnosis, and it’s often best that it get caught at this stage if anything is going to be able to be done about it.
About 0.6% of males actually suffer from this condition, which is a sizable enough portion of the population that protocols are in place from the time it is recognized to help alleviate the concerns.
Many cases which parents believe they have caught between the ages of eight and twelve are revealed to not be true cases. Additional fat built up around the mons pubis area in early adolescence, for instance, can cause the member to look smaller than it actually is.
Bodies being what they are, sometimes a child’s frame will begin to grow rapidly before their genitalia catches up, and this can lead concerned parents to misdiagnose the condition themselves. In some cases, it’s simply a matter of overly concerned parents whose child hasn’t hit puberty yet. If the condition seems to persist past the age of twelve or so, there may indeed be a problem that wasn’t caught earlier.
Causes of Micropenis:-
The causes of the condition can be quite varied, but many of them stem from a lack of male hormones(androgens) while in utero. It’s also been tied to abnormal testicle formation, in which the androgenic properties are compromised. Inadequate pituitary stimulation which can cause the hormones released by the pituitary gland itself to become quite compromised. In this case, there will often be other side effects due to the role of these hormones in body development.
Essentially all of these causes boil down to hypogonadism, which is a disruption in the function of the testicles role in creating androgenic compounds. The condition itself is often only part of the symptoms which emerge, but is one of the most prominent factors in correctly diagnosing these other disorders. This doesn’t imply that these conditions will always persist into adolescence in those who present with micropenis however, but in the case of the penis the damage has been done and steps must be taken to reverse things in order to ensure a high quality of life for the patient.
While not exactly life threatening, there are some physical complications which are introduced into the person’s life when they suffer from this condition. Many men will find it to be quite hard to urinate due to the lack of length inherent to the condition. It’s a minor complication, but it can definitely be something which affects the quality of life of the individual who suffers from it.
Fertility issues, whether being entirely infertile or just suffering from an extremely low sperm count are also often present alongside more practical considerations. There are also problems with sexual intercourse, while arousal can generally be achieved unless there’s another co-occurring condition which prevents it, the lack of size can be problematic for practical reasons when it comes to having intercourse.
Mental Health Implications:-
While the actual effect of quality of life in an entirely socially isolated situation might not cause much of a problem, there are some pretty severe implications for those who do suffer from micropenis. These primarily relate to social and sexual situations. While most men with micropenis can perform sexually, their partners may experience dissatisfaction which can lead to problems with self-esteem related to their sexuality. This can eventually manifest as avoiding their preferred gender almost entirely.
Even men with normal sized genitalia often fall prey to the anxiety surrounding the idea of being undersized when it comes to their sexual organs. This is generally a combination of the optical illusion of foreshortening and generalized anxiety. In men who truly have a micropenis, the mental results can be debilitating.
It’s also the case that they may face some level of humiliation from other males. The penis is often considered to be indicative of various masculine qualities and they may be demeaned on the basis of “lacking” those qualities. This social ostracization is probably one of the keys to the mental disorders that sometimes occur in those who suffer from micropenis.
Depression is a common feature among those who suffer from the condition, alongside the anxiety and social issues they may face. These serious conditions can require a professional’s intervention and shouldn’t be taken lightly by either the patient or the practitioner treating them. Overall, this can lead to a greatly diminished quality of life despite the minimal physical complications involved with the condition. It is to this end that many treatments and procedures have been developed and they are often put into place as soon as the condition is known.
Some level of counseling and support groups can often be quite helpful in alleviating these crippling mental effects, but in general the person suffering from the condition will have to seek out the solution themselves.
Hormone Treatment of the Condition:-
There are two primary routes which can be taken in order to combat the condition and help those who suffer from micropenis regain a fully functional size as an adult. The first line of treatment is given primarily to infants who have been diagnosed with the condition quite early on. This will consist of a short routine of administration of androgenic compounds in order to try to reverse the lessened size that the individual possesses.
This will generally be a course of testosterone applied over the course of three months and it’s usually quite effective at moving the patient’s member at least out of the range which would be considered a micropenis. The results may not be immediate, but if no persistent condition is present things may correct themselves at puberty even if the patient’s penis doesn’t actually ever become the average size.
The shortened course was decided upon in order to make sure that early virilization doesn’t occur, and it can also help to avoid premature bone maturization which can lead to some rather negative consequences for the individual. These steroid courses are generally not resumed in teenagers unless they still suffer from a marked level of hypogonadism due to the possible consequences.
Studies are conflicted on the premature deployment of testosterone and its implications in the future size of the patient’s penis. While it has long been held to have a reducing effect, recent studies have contradicted this and more data will have to be gathered in order to come to a final conclusion. The basic testosterone treatment described above is completely ineffective once the patient has reached their final height. The end of puberty means that the penis itself will quit growing with just the application of testosterone and instead the person will just suffer the usual side-effects of an influx of androgenic compounds.
However, there has been a treatment described in a few studies using hormones which appears to be effective in adults. It utilizes human Chorionic Gonadotropin and the studies of the results have been quite promising. The patients received three weekly injections of the compound for two months, and by the end there was a lot of progress which could be done. While a bit intensive and still in early development, the procedure itself looks quite promising.
Transdermal Dihydrotesosterone has also been tested in those who aren’t responsive to the normal course of testosterone applied. It seems to be quite efficacious in this subset of the micropenis population, and studies are still being done on it.The urologists who find themselves treating this problem are constantly searching for new and better methods to help out their patients, and it’s quite likely that the “cure” for this condition will end up coming from this side of treatment.
Surgical Treatment of Micropenis:-
In cases where things have persisted into adulthood, surgery may be necessary to correct the issues. It’s not preferred as a first line of treatment due to the invasiveness of the procedure and it tends to be rather ineffective. In the past extreme cases were often candidates for gender reassignment surgery. These cases are fairly rare, occurring in only a small fraction of those with the micropenis condition. In these instances the glans of the penis often did not protrude over the end of the testicles.
It’s been found that more harm than good can be done through this method and then controversial method has been ceased entirely, at least in public medicine. The question of raising the boy as a girl is still raised on occasion, but in these instances it is quite likely that the individual’s reassignment would be performed when they are more mentally capable of making the decision.
There are also options similar to that of phalloplasty, a surgery which was designed to enlarge the penis, that can be used by adults who have micropenis. These are also the subject of some controversy, as they are not always entirely successful and are almost never performed on children for fear of harming their development.
Phalloplasty itself is a rather complex subject. It is not a single procedure but instead an entire spectrum of them which treats different size problems with the phallus. This can include tightening things up, increasing the length, and even increasing the size of the glans. These procedures are generally the go-to for those who suffer from the conditions as an adult, and were the only option for a long time.
All of these procedures, except for enlargement of the glans, are permanent and can help someone with the micropenis condition to get out of that classification although results which actually achieve average size are rare. There has also been some work done by a urologist in the realm of silicon implants to increase penis size which offers some promising results for those who might be seeking to alleviate their micropenis condition.
One other factor tends to hold back those who would opt for surgery, except for in the case of congenital micropenis in extreme cases insurance companies often won’t cover the costs. This can lead to prohibitively expensive medical bills, since the procedures often cost well into five figures.
Micropenis occurs in a sizable, if small, portion of the population and can have some serious ramifications on the quality of life for those who suffer from it. These include the physical ramifications, as well as social and mental health implications. Fortunately the condition can be treated as soon as it’s diagnosed with hormonal methods. These range from simple testosterone injections for infants to newer techniques which are being developed at a rapid pace.
Surgical options also exist, but are quite invasive and often prohibitively expensive. There seems to have been little progress in this area other than abandoning the barbaric practice of infant and child gender reassignment, although the newly developed silicone implants are beginning to look promising.
Micropenis is a serious condition, and those who suffer from it can have a diminished quality of life. There is hope for them, however, since a variety of treatments exist and more are being developed at a constant pace.