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A flaccid micropenis
DurationPermanent (lifetime)
Frequencyc. 0.6% of men

A micropenis is an unusually small penis. A common criterion is a dorsal (measured on top) penile length of at least 2.5 standard deviations smaller than the mean human penis size.[1] A micropenis is stretched penile length less than 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in term infants, 2.6 cm (1.02 in) in one-year-old, 3.5 cm (1.38 in) in five year old, 3.8 cm (1.5 in) in ten year old, and 9.3 cm (3.66 in) in adults. The condition is usually recognized shortly after birth. The term is most often used medically when the rest of the penis, scrotum, and perineum are without ambiguity, such as hypospadias. A microphallus describes a medical term where other sections of genitallia are different, such as hypospadias or cryptorchidism.[2] Micropenis incidence is about 1.5 in 10,000 male newborns in North America.[3]


Measuring an erect micropenis

Of the abnormal conditions associated with micropenis, most are conditions of reduced prenatal androgen production or effect, such as abnormal testicular development (testicular dysgenesis), Klinefelter syndrome, Leydig cell hypoplasia, specific defects of testosterone or dihydrotestosterone synthesis (17,20-lyase deficiency, 5α-reductase deficiency), androgen insensitivity syndromes, inadequate pituitary stimulation (gonadotropin deficiency), and other forms of congenital hypogonadism. Micropenis can also occur as part of many genetic malformation syndromes that do not involve the sex chromosomes. It is sometimes a sign of congenital growth-hormone deficiency or congenital hypopituitarism. Several homeobox genes affect penis and digit size without detectable hormone abnormalities.[citation needed]

In addition, in utero exposure to some estrogen based fertility drugs like diethylstilbestrol (DES) has been linked to genital abnormalities or a smaller than normal penis.[4]

After evaluation to detect any of the conditions described above, micropenis can often be treated in infancy with injections of various hormones, such as human chorionic gonadotropin and testosterone.[5]


Hormone treatment

Growth of the penis both before birth and during childhood and puberty is strongly influenced by testosterone and, to a lesser degree, the growth hormone. However, later endogenous hormones mainly have value in the treatment of micropenis caused by hormone deficiencies, such as hypopituitarism or hypogonadism.[6]

Regardless of the cause of micropenis, if it is recognized in infancy, a brief course of testosterone is often prescribed[7] (usually no more than three months). This usually induces a small amount of growth, confirming the likelihood of further growth at puberty, but rarely achieves normal size. No additional testosterone is given during childhood, to avoid unwanted virilization and bone maturation. (There is also some evidence that premature administration of testosterone can lead to reduced penis size in the adult.)[8]

Testosterone treatment is resumed in adolescence only for boys with hypogonadism. Penile growth is completed at the end of puberty, similar to the completion of height growth, and provision of extra testosterone to post-pubertal adults produces little or no further growth.[5]


Because hormone treatment rarely achieves average size, several surgical techniques similar to phalloplasty for penis enlargement have been devised and performed, but they are not generally considered successful enough to be widely adopted and are rarely performed in childhood.[citation needed]

In extreme cases of micropenis, there is barely any shaft, and the glans appears to sit almost on the pubic skin. From the 1960s until the late 1970s, it was common for sex reassignment and surgery to be recommended. This was especially likely if evidence suggested that response to additional testosterone and pubertal testosterone would be poor. With parental acceptance, the boy would be reassigned and renamed as a girl, and surgery performed to remove the testes and construct an artificial vagina. This was based on the now-questioned idea that gender identity was shaped entirely from socialization, and that a man with a small penis can find no acceptable place in society.[citation needed]

Johns Hopkins Hospital, the center most known for this approach, performed twelve such reassignments from 1960 to 1980,[citation needed] most notably[citation needed] that of David Reimer (whose penis was destroyed by a circumcision accident), overseen by John Money. By the mid-1990s, reassignment was less often offered, and all three premises had been challenged. Former subjects of such surgery, vocal about their dissatisfaction with the adult outcome, played a large part in discouraging this practice. Sexual reassignment is rarely performed today for severe micropenis (although the question of raising the boy as a girl is sometimes still discussed).[9]

See also


  1. ^ Lee PA, Mazur T, Danish R, et al. (1980). "Micropenis. I. Criteria, etiologies and classification". The Johns Hopkins Medical Journal. 146 (4): 156–63. PMID 7366061.
  2. ^ "Microphallus: Practice Essentials, Pathophysiology, Epidemiology". 29 December 2022 – via eMedicine. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ ScienceDaily.com (2004). "Surgeons Pinch More Than An Inch From The Arm To Rebuild A Micropenis," 6 Dec. 2004, retrieved 2 April 2012.
  4. ^ Center for Disease Control. "DES Update: Consumers".
  5. ^ a b Hatipoglu N, Kurtoglu S (December 2013). "Micropenis: Etiology, Diagnosis and Treatment Approaches". Journal of Clinical Research Pediatric Endocrinology. 5 (4): 217–223. doi:10.4274/Jcrpe.1135. PMC 3890219. PMID 24379029.
  6. ^ "Hypogonadism". The Lecturio Medical Concept Library. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  7. ^ Ishii T, Sasaki G, Hasegawa T, Sato S, Matsuo N, Ogata T (2004). "Testosterone enanthate therapy is effective and independent of SRD5A2 and AR gene polymorphisms in boys with micropenis". J. Urol. 172 (1): 319–24. doi:10.1097/01.ju.0000129005.84831.1e. PMID 15201804.
  8. ^ McMahon DR, Kramer SA, Husmann DA (1995). "Micropenis: does early treatment with testosterone do more harm than good?". J. Urol. 154 (2 Pt 2): 825–9. doi:10.1016/S0022-5347(01)67175-1. PMID 7609189.
  9. ^ Calikoglu AS; Calikoglu, A (1999). "Should boys with micropenis be reared as girls?". J. Pediatr. 134 (5): 537–8. doi:10.1016/S0022-3476(99)70236-2. PMID 10228285.

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