Micropenis refers to an abnormally small penis. Micropenis is rare and hormonal or genetic issues are most often the cause. Doctors will usually diagnose and treat the condition at birth. In this article, we look at the definition of micropenis, the symptoms and causes, and the ways a smaller than average penis may or may not affect sexual and other functions. But before that, we will talk about the causes of the penis.
Hormonal issues are the most common cause of micropenis. Less commonly, micropenis and other birth abnormalities can occur when the mother experiences exposure to pesticides or other toxic chemicals during pregnancy. Testosterone deficiencies, during pregnancy, are usually the cause of micropenis and may also cause other genital abnormalities.
A testosterone deficiency can arise when a male foetus does not produce enough testosterone, or when the mother does not produce enough human chorionic gonadotrophin hormone during pregnancy. hCG stimulates testosterone development in the fetus.
When testosterone levels are normal, some medical conditions can stop a person’s body from responding to testosterone correctly. This response is called androgen insensitivity. When any of these hormonal issues arise, the penis of a male fetus may not develop in the usual way.
A male baby will experience a surge of testosterone around 0-3 months after birth. This is a crucial period for penile growth. If this process is interrupted by hormonal problems, a baby may have a smaller penis. In rare cases, a micropenis is idiopathic, which means that a doctor cannot find a specific cause.
Because hormone issues typically cause micropenis, people with this condition may have other symptoms too. Some diagnoses that doctors may associate with micropenis include:
- Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism
- Prader Will syndrome
- Kallmann syndrome
- Growth hormone deficiencies
- Abnormal chromosomes
- Laurence moon syndrome
Treatments aim to increase the penis size to ensure a person has a fully functioning penis and that they feel confident. A doctor may recommend the following treatments for micropenis:
Testosterone treatments can often help the penis to grow. Applying testosterone cream to the genitals during infancy, or giving intramuscular testosterone injections can increase penis size. Testosterone treatments are more effective before puberty than later on.
Doctors may consider that a good response to testosterone treatment in a 100% increase in the penis length or an adequate response as a 3.5cm increase in length. Different hormone treatments may help, depending on the cause of micropenis, so it is important that a person gets an accurate diagnosis.
If hormone treatments do not work, surgery may help. A doctor can put an implant into the penis, which may make it look larger than before. However, this surgery carries a high chance of complications.