What Is a Micropenis?

Melissa Barrett
Melissa Barrett
In the past, parents of a boy born with a micropenis were sometimes advised to have their child undergo gender reassignment surgery.
In the past, parents of a boy born with a micropenis were sometimes advised to have their child undergo gender reassignment surgery.

A micropenis is a penis that is otherwise normally formed but much smaller than average. In infant males, this is indicated by a length of less than 0.75 inches (1.9 centimeters) when stretched. In adult males, the qualifying measurement is 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) when fully erect. There are many conditions that can cause an unusually small penis, but generally, the production or assimilation of testosterone is involved.

Individuals with Klinefelter syndrome have an extra X chromosome.
Individuals with Klinefelter syndrome have an extra X chromosome.

Male hypogonadism is a broad medical term describing decreased testosterone production. There are many diagnoses with hypogonadism as a symptom, and a majority of those conditions that begin at infancy or adolescence can result in a micropenis. Hypogonadism is further divided into primary and secondary classes.

In primary hypogonadism, reduced testosterone levels result from a malfunction within the male testicles. When a micropenis presents in infant males, it is sometimes the result of hypogonadism caused by Klinefelter syndrome. Individuals with Klinefelter syndrome have an extra X chromosome, which often results in malformation of the testicles and decreased testosterone production.

Secondary hypogonadism is often caused by a malfunction in the hypothalamus gland.
Secondary hypogonadism is often caused by a malfunction in the hypothalamus gland.

Any injury to the testicles before or during early adolescence can cause primary hypogonadism and ultimately result in a micropenis. Injury from physical trauma is obviously dangerous, but damage to the testicles from a mumps infection is also possible. Excess iron levels in the blood can also, in rare cases, lead to underdevelopment.

In secondary hypogonadism, the testicles do not receive the signal to produce testosterone. In these cases, there is usually a malfunction in the pituitary or hypothalamus gland. This can be caused a genetic disorder such as Kallmann syndrome or be the result a number of pituitary disorders. Obesity has also been aligned with secondary hypogonadism.

Hypogonadism may be diagnosed with a blood test.
Hypogonadism may be diagnosed with a blood test.

In infancy, a micropenis is often treated with short-term injections of testosterone. If the penis shows improved growth after three months, it is assumed that increased hormones in puberty will also result in increased length. For adult males, some potential to increase size has been shown using surgical implants. Some herbal remedies have been marketed with guarantees to extend penis length. There are no independent scientific studies to adequately prove these claims.

There are many conditions that can cause an unusually small penis, but the production or assimilation of testosterone is typically involved.
There are many conditions that can cause an unusually small penis, but the production or assimilation of testosterone is typically involved.

In the past, parents of a boy born with a micropenis were sometimes advised to have their child undergo gender reassignment surgery. In rare cases, when the child had both a penis and a vagina, this advice was almost universal. As serious emotional effects began to emerge in these children at adolescence, the practice was reexamined. It has since been largely abandoned.

How Common Are Micropenises?

While the size of the average penis varies from person to person, micropenises aren't as common as you may think. 

In reality, the condition is rare, with less than 1% of all men worldwide with the condition. To get more specific, about 0.6% of men have micropenis worldwide. 

What Classifies a Penis as a Micropenis?

We mentioned that a micropenis is less than 0.75 inches in infant males and three inches or less in adult males. But how do they get these measurements, and what's the classification for boys between infancy and adulthood?

Obesity has been linked to secondary hypogonadism.
Obesity has been linked to secondary hypogonadism.

Physicians use stretched penile length (SPL) to determine if the boy is in the normal range or has a micropenis. The average infant SPL is 1.4 inches, significantly larger than the micropenis classification of 0.75 inches. So, even if a boy has an SPL shorter than 1.4 inches, it doesn't immediately mean they have a micropenis. 

The average adult male SPL is 5.25 inches. If the penis is smaller than this number, it's not the rare condition of a micropenis unless its SPL is three inches or less.

Diagnosing a Micropenis

An injury to the testicles before or during early adolescence can cause primary hypogonadism and ultimately result in a micropenis.
An injury to the testicles before or during early adolescence can cause primary hypogonadism and ultimately result in a micropenis.

The most common way that physicians diagnose a micropenis is by measuring the SPL of the patient. Physicians will measure the length of the penis and compare it to the average SPL of their age. This is the only natural way to diagnose a micropenis. Further testing can happen to find the best course of treatment.

Will a Micropenis Grow With Puberty

As the boy's body grows, the micropenis will grow with it. Someone who had a micropenis at birth may not anymore by reaching adulthood. One study concluded that nine of 27 male participants no longer had an SPL that classified them as having a micropenis after puberty. 

While some men will experience penis growth that pushes them out of the range of a micropenis as they go through puberty, it's not a common phenomenon. Those who undergo hormone treatment before or during puberty may increase their chances of penile growth, but it's not a guarantee. 

Micropenises Mistaken for Other Conditions

Just because a penis is tiny doesn't immediately mean that it's a micropenis. People often mistake a micropenis for two other conditions, a webbed and a buried penis. 

Webbed Penis

The first condition health professionals often mistake for a micropenis is a webbed penis. You may also hear the condition called inconspicuous penis too. When a boy or man has a webbed penis, scrotum skin is unusually high on the shaft of the penis. 

This causes the penis to look smaller than it is solely because only a portion of the shaft and tip are visible. A boy can be born with a webbed penis, or they can develop one due to a complication with their circumcision. 

Men can embrace their webbed penis, or cosmetic surgery can help correct the skin from being too high on the shaft. If cosmetic surgery is the approach chosen, physicians will suggest waiting until the patient is at least a teenager, but preferably, an adult.

Buried Penis

Buried penises are average size but buried under the folds of the skin. It can be folded from the scrotum, thigh, or abdomen. Physicians diagnose buried penises in infancy, much like micropenises, but there are cases of them developing later in life. 

Since buried and micropenises are diagnosed in infancy, they're easily mistaken for one another. Often it is not until later in life that someone misdiagnosed with a micropenis discovers they have a buried penis. 

This condition can occur due to an abnormality that the boy is born with or due to a buildup of fat around the genitals. As boys grow into men, their pelvic floor muscles weaken, which affects how the penis sits while erect and not. If a man has weaker muscles, it can lead to the penis appearing buried.

The Prognosis for Men With Micropenises

The prognosis for those with a micropenis is pretty good. This can be corrected with hormone therapy when a hormone deficiency causes the micropenis. The prognosis is generally much better for these men than those who have a micropenis because of other disorders since their other conditions may not have treatments available.

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Discussion Comments

anon1006365

Erectile dysfunction has been a problem to me for years my wife always get disappointed with me whenever will are in bed, I don’t last for up to two minute during sex, I have taking different medication but to no solution then I went on the net for a solution on how to enlarge my penis and I got contact of DR Ede who help in cure erection and ejaculation problem with his product and also help to enlarge penis, I got in touch with him through his email address and I got the product which I took for just a week and my ejaculation is now normal and my erection is hard and my penis got bigger than before and now I can last long in bed. now 8.5 inches long on erection and off course very large round. I am very happy for this Penis Enlargement experience without any side effects. He can help with all kinds of cure you may need WhatsApp him with this number +2347064290546

anon1006364

Erectile dysfunction has been a problem to me for years my wife always get disappointed with me whenever will are in bed, I don’t last for up to two minute during sex, I have taking different medication but to no solution then I went on the net for a solution on how to enlarge my penis and I got contact of DR Ede who help in cure erection and ejaculation problem with his product and also help to enlarge penis, I got in touch with him through his email address and I got the product which I took for just a week and my ejaculation is now normal and my erection is hard and my penis got bigger than before and now I can last long in bed. now 8.5 inches long on erection and off course very large round. I am very happy for this Penis Enlargement experience without any side effects. He can help with all kinds of cure you may need WhatsApp him with this number +2347064290546

anon1004271

I, too, have struggled with this all my life. A lot of people joke about it, but most could never fathom the amount of torment that comes from a life of suffering with this. There are some of us that will never experience love, marriage, or a family of our own during our existence. Makes one wonder what the purpose of even being born male, yet restricted from ever being a man is. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. It's the worst possible scenario a man could ever face.

anon1003825

I also have a micro penis. A few years ago I had kidney stones, twice. They gave me Tamsulosin 4mg. to relax everything. I have been taking this for the past four years. My erect penis is about 3 and half inches, and flaccid about 2 and half inches. I think this has helped loosen everything. Worth a try.

anon942138

@anon337861: You have my sympathy brother! I fall slightly out of the micropenis range but I know what you've probably gone through. I grew up suffering from all the locker room teasing and relationship issues. By the way, I began taking testosterone about a year ago and feel a lot better physically. That does nothing for size though. God bless!

anon337861

I have a micropenis due to Kallmann's Syndrome. I am also infertile. To say that I have issues because of my condition is an understatement. People with micropenis are real. Most people probably know someone who suffers from it and they obviously keep it a secret. I really need help dealing with this but it's so embarrassing, I can't talk to anyone I know about it.

mabeT

I have heard of sexual reassignments for people who were born deformed at birth; basically they had both vagina and a penis.

The penis, I guess, was easier to get rid of surgically and so doctors suggested that the parents do this early on. I guess they sided with the nurture part of nature versus nurture.

This proved to be devastating to many of these young ‘women’ who actually felt like men on the inside. As sad as it is to say, though, I do sort of understand where the doctors were coming from.

How would you be able to raise a happy, healthy child who had both sex organs? At the same time, how do you choose to amputate one of their major body parts?

Regardless, I can understand the whys and hows and such that go along with this kind of sexual reassignment, even though I don’t really condone it.

But why in the world would somebody choose this route just because a baby has a very small penis? This seems a little like a huge overreaction to me.

Maybe there is something I do not understand, but it seems like it would be fully functional later in life, just small. And isn't there a good possibility that it might grow?

indemnifyme

@Azuza - I've seen some of those documentaries too. People face such a stigma when they get a sex change I would definitely want to avoid a gender reassignment surgery for a baby.

One thing that jumped out at me from this article was the implants. I know this can obviously be a really sensitive issue for men but I think a lot of study needs to be done before these implants are widely used. It just doesn't sound safe to me!

blackDagger

I learned so many things in this article that my mind is reeling. First of all, I have never heard the term micropenis before; but it is apparently what it sounds like.

I suppose one key thing for me was the information between the lines, though. I have three sisters, and no brothers. I had never seen a baby boy’s penis until I had my own son. I had no idea what he was supposed to look like when he was born in terms of size.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit this to a doctor, and as he looked really normal and nobody made a big fuss over his genitals, I didn’t come right out and ask if he was a regular little boy. I just assumed that if there was a problem someone would have told me.

The thing is that now I know that he was just right at birth because of the dimensions given in the article, and since everything seems to be growing in proportion to his body he is just a happy, healthy young boy.

For a mother who knows little to nothing about little boys, this brings a good deal of comfort.

Azuza

Wow! It seems a little extreme to have your childs gender reassigned because of this issue. I am really glad this practice has fallen out of favor.

I've seen a few documentaries on people who had their gender reassigned at birth for whatever reason. They usually end up feeling like something "isn't quite right" with their gender later on. Sometimes they even end up getting a sex change as an adult. It seems like it would be a lot easier to just leave a baby with a micropenis a boy and try hormonal treatments or something like that.

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    • In the past, parents of a boy born with a micropenis were sometimes advised to have their child undergo gender reassignment surgery.
      By: garagundi
      In the past, parents of a boy born with a micropenis were sometimes advised to have their child undergo gender reassignment surgery.
    • Individuals with Klinefelter syndrome have an extra X chromosome.
      By: Giovanni Cancemi
      Individuals with Klinefelter syndrome have an extra X chromosome.
    • Secondary hypogonadism is often caused by a malfunction in the hypothalamus gland.
      By: Athanasia Nomikou
      Secondary hypogonadism is often caused by a malfunction in the hypothalamus gland.
    • Hypogonadism may be diagnosed with a blood test.
      By: panupong1982
      Hypogonadism may be diagnosed with a blood test.
    • There are many conditions that can cause an unusually small penis, but the production or assimilation of testosterone is typically involved.
      By: tomschoumakers
      There are many conditions that can cause an unusually small penis, but the production or assimilation of testosterone is typically involved.
    • Obesity has been linked to secondary hypogonadism.
      By: olly
      Obesity has been linked to secondary hypogonadism.
    • An injury to the testicles before or during early adolescence can cause primary hypogonadism and ultimately result in a micropenis.
      By: elisabetta figus
      An injury to the testicles before or during early adolescence can cause primary hypogonadism and ultimately result in a micropenis.