What is meatal stenosis?

The word “stenosis” refers to the narrowing of a passage. In meatal stenosis the meatus, or opening at the tip of the penis, becomes narrower. This condition can be present at birth or it can occur later in life, usually between ages three and seven.

How common is meatal stenosis?

One study has found that about 9% of boys have meatal stenosis at birth. In a follow-up study of 1,800 boys aged six to ten years, visual inspection found 32% had a “pinhole” meatus. This implies that about 23% of all cases resulted after birth.

What causes meatal stenosis?

Meatal stenosis is almost always seen in males who have been circumcised. Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin over the tip of the penis. It is rare for uncircumcised males to have meatal stenosis. This may mean that circumcision has caused the meatus to become narrower. Other causes of meatal stenosis include:

  • Inflammation or injury that results from a baby’s penis rubbing against a diaper or the baby’s own skin after circumcision
  • A diaper containing the buildup of crystals of uric acid and ammonia, which are found in urine
  • Long-term use of urinary catheters (tubes to drain urine)

What are the symptoms of meatal stenosis?

The symptoms of meatal stenosis occur as a result of urine flow becoming partly blocked.

Symptoms include the following:

  • Pain or burning while urinating
  • Sudden urges to urinate
  • Having to urinate often
  • A small, narrow, very fast urinary stream
  • A urinary flow that sprays (usually upward) or is difficult to aim
  • Trouble with fully emptying the bladder
  • A drop of blood at the tip of the penis after urinating

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