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What Is Diphallia?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Diphallia is an unusual congenital anomaly where a child is born with two penises. This condition appears in about one in five million patients, and treatment depends on the specific presentation and any other medical issues the patient may have. Typically, the malformation of the penis is accompanied with anomalies in other parts of the body, and these may take precedence in treatment because of their severity.

This condition is not a genetic mutation and cannot be inherited. It occurs because of errors during fetal development, like the incomplete migration of penile cells as the penis grows. This may be random or the result of exposure to chemicals in utero. Prenatal ultrasound may allow for a diagnosis before the baby is born, along with an evaluation of other body systems like the renal and colorectal tracts to check for other birth defects. Patients with diphallia may have other deformities like imperforate anus, where the anal opening fails to form.

When a baby is born with this condition, a medical professional will usually recommend a thorough evaluation to check for other birth defects and collect as much information about the anomaly as possible. Sometimes, one of the penises is not fully formed or doesn't connect to other parts of the urinary and reproductive tracts, while in others, the two penises may be complete and fully functional. The anatomy of a specific case can be a cause for concern when developing a treatment plan.

One treatment option is surgical reconstruction. A surgeon will evaluate the patient, remove the supernumerary penis, and perform any additional procedures such as relocating the remaining penis to place it in an anatomically correct position. At the same time, the surgeon may address other aspects of the patient's case, such as malformations in the gut that may lead to medical complications in the future.

A surgeon may recommend waiting on treatment since newborn infants are fragile and surgery can be dangerous. If the procedure is purely cosmetic in nature, it may be better to let the infant grow and develop before addressing the issue. The surgeon may also want to address serious birth defects first, treating the diphallia at a later juncture.

Patients with this condition may be infertile. If fertility is a concern, a patient can request specific testing and discuss options for managing infertility with a doctor. These can include using donor sperm or seeing if it is possible to harvest viable sperm for in vitro fertilization.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By fBoyle — On Mar 05, 2013

I read about a baby in Russia who was born with diphallia. He had two penises but was missing a bladder. The doctors operated on him and reconstructed a bladder and joined the penises to form one.

Apparently, the baby is healthy and will be able to function normally when he grows up. He's not going to have fertility issues.

I'm glad to hear this because aside from the health issues, I'm sure this child would have experienced psychological disturbance from this condition had he not been operated on.

By discographer — On Mar 04, 2013

@donasmrs-- Since it's not genetic, I'm sure this condition has existed as long as humans have. However, the first written account of a man with two penises was around 1600s. It's a relatively rare condition though.

There are probably around 55 people in the US right now with diphallia. Some don't get diagnosed or get diagnosed late because the second penis can actually form inside the first one. And so it is not apparent and is not discovered until a surgical operation is done.

By donasmrs — On Mar 03, 2013

When was diphallia first reported? I have to write an article on a genetic anomaly and I decided to write on diphallia.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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