Life Stories

The Experience of Penile Difference

We make the point elsewhere on this site that gaining knowledge about hypospadias is the essential first step in coming to terms with living with the condition. We hope that the information in this site is helpful in that regard. It certainly seems to us that it fills a gap in the publicly available information from which we have all suffered.

We also feel very strongly that meeting another man with the condition can be a life-changing event, and would encourage everyone to try to do that. Just listening to someone else recall the hurts, the isolation and the loneliness which so often accompanies hypospadias is a never-to-be-forgotten experience.

Whether you have mild or severe hypospadias, have had no operations or several, you will recognise in the discussion the common themes in every person’s story; and so many similarities in the strategies they have adopted to get through.

We also feel that reading testimonies provided by men who have come to terms with their hypospadias can prove valuable. Anyone with hyposapdias reading these life stories will hear their own story depicted within each narrative.

And everyone, with or without the condition, will feel the pain and isolation which accompanies many of these narratives – but will surely also recognise that, with knowledge and support, comes a level of acceptance which can allow everyone with hypospadias to lead fulfilling and satisfying lives.

22 year old in the USA

I was born with a severe hypospadias with the urethral meatus located midway between the scrotum and the tip of the penis. I underwent four operations as a child to repair the problem, and they seemed to work well for about twelve years. My penis was shaped normally, could achieve erection, and appeared “normal” when compared to others.

But when I reached sexual maturity, the growth of my penis caused the surgically repaired skin near the base of my penis to tear, producing several fistulae, or holes, near the base of the penis. Although I had a “real” urethral opening at the tip of my penis, I also had several openings on the base. This caused me to leak but I was so embarrassed I never told anyone until I was seventeen years old, and had some surgery, which was only partially effective in curing the problem.

My penis ended up with a hole at the tip from the first surgery and a series of holes where the opening was originally located. I avoided women because I believed they would think I was a freak.

Here is the good news. Around the age of nineteen I decided to forget about the problem and date women. I found that if a woman saw the surgical scars or holes on my penis, she was often more curious than anything else. When I explained that it was a rather common condition in male children, my partners didn’t usually care and we continued to make love. This was a good confidence booster for me.

Now I am twenty two years old, in my second year of medical school, and while I still leak, I have worked out ways to urinate standing up without dripping on my clothes. My fiancée has accepted this problem gracefully, and we have wonderful sex together. I’d just add that while my penis is also five inches erect due to the hypospadias, my fiancée is more than pleased with my sexual performance. Hypospadias doesn’t have to ruin one’s confidence level and nor does a smaller penis!

24 year old in the UK

Yep, I’ve got it. A very mild case, to be sure; but I’ve got it all the same. I never realized that my penis was abnormal, and I certainly had never heard the term “hypospadias” until a female cousin of mine, who is a Registered Nurse, mentioned it to me about seven years ago.

I remember always having a difficult time peeing “in a straight line” growing up, and even now. But it never occurred to me that something was wrong, even though it was extremely frustrating trying to pee without hitting the rim of the bowl at least some of the time while standing there. Those rare occasions when all of the pee would go in the toilet bowl from start to finish I regarded as a major accomplishment; in the back of my mind I could never understand why I couldn’t do that all the time. Well, now I know.

As a youngster, I would notice other guys’ penises in the bathroom or gym locker room and be aware of the different shapes and sizes. On a subconscious level, it dawned on me that there was no definitive shape or size. Each one was unique to its owner and it never really entered my mind that there was a certain standard by which all should be judged. Penis size was never a concern of mine; but to be fair, I knew that my own wasn’t really small, although it certainly wasn’t large. As for circumcised or uncircumcised, I belong in the former category.

Again, while growing up, I was subconsciously aware of the uncircumcised penises (I had some male cousins that I was close to, as well as others I noticed at school), but it wasn’t something I paid a whole lot of attention to nor thought about very much. They were just oddly different and that’s as far as it went in my mind. On the subject of masturbation, I didn’t pick up on that until about three months after turning fourteen – I was a late bloomer. But having hypospadias never seemed to be a problem in that regard. Same thing when I discovered sex.

My penis size is right on average, sex has never been a problem (I’m strictly heterosexual), and at this stage of my life (I’m just a few days from turning twenty four) I see no need for corrective surgery. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones with this condition. I realize now that it could’ve been a lot worse. It goes without saying that it would be better if I didn’t have this condition at all; but I would definitely take my case over all the others I’ve seen. At any rate, I hope this personal account will be helpful in some way to others with this malady.

Thanks so very much for having this tremendously important information available. I feel a lot better knowing more about this condition, and I’m sure I speak for many, many other men in the same boat.

31 year old in the USA

At birth my urethra opened up somewhere around halfway down the penile shaft. I had the usual hooded foreskin as well as some chordee, and a nice groove on the glans where the urethra should have been. There is no twist. As an adult, the chordee is slight but noticeable (I do not know if the chordee was addressed in surgery or if it would have turned out that way naturally).

As a child, once I was aware I was different, it became an issue with me. I remember as a child thinking that I could perhaps poke a hole through the slit where the correct opening should have been and fix the problem myself. The pain quickly discouraged me from that idea. I was very frustrated with why I was different. Kids are not really equipped to deal with this sort of thing without support and encouragement.

My sexual orientation is straight, but I will admit a certain curiosity to this day with the normal penis. That curiosity was exhibited as a child with games of “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” with boys my age. The feelings attached to those memories are not of sexual desire, but rather of envy and jealousy towards the normal penis and its owner.

As an adult I have still sometimes experienced those same feelings when I’ve seen pictures of normal penises. Like a lot of men with hypospadias, this has sometimes had me confused about my sexual orientation, even though I consider myself “straight”.

After a complete surgical “correction” at the age of twenty two, I became very promiscuous. I thought that if I was a capable sex partner, I’d feel better about myself. I’ve had many sex partners in my life, but instead of causing me to become more secure and self confident, this behaviour left me needy, insecure and knowing nothing about how to establish intimacy.

Currently I am celibate by choice and am hoping to establish a loving relationship with a woman. I am happy to report that the neediness and insecurity are slowly fading as I establish respectful dating relationships. Even so, in spite of being “corrected”, I still often view myself as that little boy with the deformed, “ugly” penis.

My adoptive parents made mistakes in referring to it as my “deformity” and saying that a doctor was going to fix it so that I would be “normal” and be able to have children (of course, this is nonsense – many men with hypospadias have kids, corrected or not). The generation from which they came did not openly discuss such matters as the penis, therefore it was not a topic to be discussed except in the most general terms. We never had a comfortable discussion about it, nor did they ever ask my opinion of how I was feeling about it.

Growing up I was told that the reason I was placed up for adoption was because of the hypospadias and that I should consider myself lucky to have a condition that could be hidden. This was so destructive! Instead of feeling that I had an imperfection that others would understand, I grew up believing that I had something shameful to hide.

The shame caused me to internalize the blame and increased my focus on the negatives. The penis is such a defining object in masculinity, and when something is wrong with it, boys and men find it very difficult to deal with.

My penis when erect is just over five inches long and the glans has the flattened appearance often associated with hypospadias. I still have slight chordee, and the skin on the shaft is considerably tighter than normal (this has been confirmed by sex partners).

The urethral opening is small and tight, with slight scarring on the glans and the coronal ridge. I can urinate with fairly good aim standing up (this is sometimes affected by cold weather) and perform well in intercourse. Ejaculation is normal and I’ve even gone as far as to have a sperm count done (it’s normal!). I’ve never tried to have kids yet, but I am glad that I had the sperm count done anyway as it gives me peace of mind.

Sex partners who have heard the full story tell me how good it looks considering what I’ve been through (five operations). Several have commented that the only obvious difference they notice is that the skin on the shaft is considerably tighter than other penises. Most say they would not have really noticed if I would not have said anything, but I find this doubtful.

I still occasionally have insecurities about how my penis looks in spite of many sexual partners telling me it’s perfectly alright! I have often still doubted them. Why I feel the need to measure up to some other standard is beyond me, but insecurity about it has been a big issues for me: sometimes I’m alright with my hypospadias, sometimes I’m not.

The biggest factor in reducing my insecurity has been the ability to talk about this with others. This has removed the shame and made it something that is just another accident of nature – one that was not my fault and does not have to be some huge secret.

Of course social graces demand that common sense be used in discussing the matter, but I’ve reached a point where I’ve been able to discuss it with very close friends (male and female) in general terms that are easy for them to understand.

As a teenager I struggled with a weight problem and as a young adult I struggled with alcohol and drug addiction problems. While I cannot blame those on my hypospadias, I do know that the condition did add fuel to the fire. I’ve now been sober for almost six years. This is important to the story because I would not have been able to make the behavioural changes necessary to face this problem (admittedly slow progress…even in sobriety) if I had not addressed the addiction issues.

Perhaps somebody reading this story has hypospadias (or know someone who does) and will relate to what I’ve described. If so, then it has been well worth it. It is important for those of us with this condition to know that we are not alone and that others have had amazingly similar feelings and experiences.

I don’t say “you must have an operation”, as that is a personal decision each must make for himself. If you do choose to have surgery, then make sure you check the credentials of the surgeon and don’t be afraid to ask questions and get references.

It may also help to know that you can check the credentials of any doctor in the U.S. through the AMA homepage. Remember also that there is no shame in seeking assistance from a professional counsellor or therapist for emotional problems caused by this condition.

45 year old in the UK

My hypospadias has shaped my life. For years as a teenager and even as an adult I was intensely interested in the shape and size of other men’s penises, something which stemmed directly from my desire to compare myself with “normal” men.

The problem with this was that I never found anybody with whom I could compare myself, and all the sneaky looks in the changing rooms at the swimming baths – while very carefully making sure that no one could see my penis – did nothing but reinforce my sense of difference and inadequacy.

For I was born not only with a hypospadiac penis but also with a small one. This has given me two things to worry about: the size issue, that plagues so many men anyway, and also the abnormality, which in my case has been quite severe. I have the very common condition of a hooded foreskin which extends only partially over the top surface of the glans.

In addition, the shaft of my penis is twisted from base to tip through about sixty degrees. This varies according to the temperature the degree of contraction and the degree of erection of my penis – when erect it is more or less straight – but again it is a constant reminder of the difference that I was born with. It may not surprise you to learn that changing in locker rooms at school was a nightmare – an ordeal which even now I look back on with horror.

It was a long time before I managed to actually enter into a sexual relationship, for the fear of being exposed to a woman’s gaze and not being seen as masculine was so great that I simply could not face it. I had an intense fear of what women would think of my masculinity and that they would reject me because of my penis.

The great news is that now having experienced the love and acceptance of a woman who cares not one jot about hypospadias, I have discovered the joy of full sexual expression in a relationship with a woman that has lasted for over six years. This doesn’t mean, however, that the effects of the hypospadias have been overcome.

Indeed, the thin tissues around the neck of my penis, just below the glans, have proved too weak to support the structure of my penis during sexual intercourse, and a degree of twisting and narrowing of the penile shaft have developed at that point, perhaps reminiscent of Peyronie’s disease. This cannot be corrected surgically, so I live with the constant reminder of difference.

For me, the main impact of hypospadias has been to reduce my self-esteem and hold me back from intimate relationships. Having said that, all in all I’m delighted with the way my adult sexual life has developed. Certainly I have a deeper understanding of myself and others through having had to travel such an emotional journey.

I’d just add a comment about the medical profession’s attitude to this problem. I found them to be deeply conservative and unwilling to consider the possibility that I inherently knew something was wrong with my own body. In fact, between the ages of fourteen and thirty, three doctors told me my penis was perfectly normal, when it clearly wasn’t!

None of them took my problems seriously, and it wasn’t until I ended up at a teaching hospital talking with a doctor who was a world leader in urethral reconstruction that I finally was told: “This [my hypospadias] is not simple!”

The level of vindication – and relief – I felt when finally an expert recognized the severity of the bends and twists in my penis was huge. And then we went on to discover that my problem was due to a long standing testosterone deficiency – as far back as during foetal development.

I’m now on testosterone replacement therapy. It’s this kind of care and attention to detail that boys and men with hypospadias often need to ensure their emotional wellness is protected – but I suspect few of them get it.

48 year old in the UK

I was born in 1960 with mid-shaft hypospadias, and underwent three-stage surgery between the ages of three and five, approximately, at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. The results were good as far as they went – I could pee standing up, and so on – but what nobody knew was that the surgery was storing up problems for the future.

As time went by, I developed a diverticulum at the point where the urethral meatus used to be – a sort of pocket our pouch off the urethra, where urine collected. This caused me frequent pain, and had a tendency to empty later, which was embarrassing.

I was discharged from aftercare at about the age of seven, as I recall, and during my adolescence, when these problems started to become more obvious, I didn’t feel able to talk to my parents or doctor about it. I think there’s a real need for long-term post-operative care and counselling for boys and young men with HS, because the issues don’t just go away with surgery. Apart from the physical problems, there were issues around the appearance of my penis which caused me a lot of unhappiness as I grew older.

Despite all this, I had a pretty active and happy sex life throughout adulthood. I’ve always been very self-conscious about my cock, and don’t really like people seeing it or touching it – but, weird as this may sound, that hasn’t been such a big problem. Occasionally I’ve been rejected because of it – but it’s not prevented me from forming a very satisfying long-term relationship with my current partner.

The physical problems got worse in my 30s and 40s as a stone formed in the diverticulum – a hard lump about the size of a pea, which I assumed for years was scar tissue of some sort. This was caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals, I believe, and is not uncommon. It started causing urinary tract infections: I had two really bad ones in quick succession in 2007.

These UTIs finally prompted me to seek medical advice – and my GP immediately referred me to a consultant urologist at Guy’s Hospital. They did several tests and then referred me on to a specialist at UCLH, who advised me that I should have a two-stage repair to a) remove the stone and the diverticulum and b) rebuild the urethra and do some work to improve the appearance of my penis, reshaping the glans and straightening out the chordee a bit.

I’m currently half way through that process – the first stage was in April 2008. I feel much better, both physically and personally. Physically, because I realise that the stone had been causing me a lot of low-level, chronic infections which were making me feel generally unwell. It was also quite uncomfortable during sex. Personally, because I have finally faced up to my “dark secret” and done something about it. It’s hard to describe how great this feels – it’s like a big weight being taken off my shoulders. Anyone who’s gone through similar experiences will understand.

What enabled me to face all of this was the support of friends and loved ones. My partner has been great, he’s always been willing to listen to my concerns and has been very reassuring about all my worst fears. And I’ve had tremendous support from a couple of other men with HS whom I met through the old Yahoo groups. It was this experience, of meeting “sufferers”, that initiated the whole process of being able to face up to my HS, tell my partner about it and seek medical advice.

I do have some serious misgivings about the way the medical establishment treats HS. While the surgeons and the care staff at the hospital are absolutely brilliant, I’ve received very little information about what was going to happen to me, and absolutely no counselling whatsoever. I’ve been badly handled by incompetent hospital administrations who have routinely cocked up appointments, and then don’t understand when I get angry or upset.

There is absolutely no recognition of the fact that it’s hard for a man to deal with issues relating to his genitals; you’re expected to breeze through it exactly as you would if you were having your tonsils removed. I’m quite a tenacious and assertive person, so I’m prepared to demand information – but even so, I’ve been kept in the dark a lot of the time.

The medical establishment needs to take a new approach to HS, caring for young people whether they have had surgery or not, and striving to inform adults with HS about the issues they may face. I’ve been told now that anyone who had HS surgery in infancy is very likely to need a further repair in adulthood – but I had never heard that before. If that was more widely known, I would have consulted a doctor years ago, and saved myself a lot of unhappiness.

I also think that any surgery which involves a man’s genitals should be accompanied by some form of pre- and post-operative counselling. Men’s health generally is not taken seriously on this level – compare the kind of awareness and counselling care that’s extended to women who have breast surgery, hysterectomy etc. This is just as traumatic, just as invasive, and just as intimately bound up with our sense of self.

I’m hoping, after the second stage of surgery in a few months, to have a much easier, healthier and more comfortable life than I’ve had to date. I’m still in the dark about what, exactly, the expected outcomes are – but so far, so good. I would really encourage anyone with HS who has concerns or misgivings about the state of their genitals to talk to a GP and insist on a referral to a urology clinic. It’s the best thing I ever did. Also, get online and talk to other men with HS, share your experiences and fears. You are not alone!

51 year old in the USA

I have a minor hypospadias round about the position where a normal frenulum would appear. The opening is covered by a thin flap of skin, and the glans itself is kind of flat and flared on the front. Apparently, I was circumcised shortly after birth.

I am able to urinate standing with a spraying stream, though I usually sit in the mornings, rather than irritate my wife with the clean-up! I have normal erections, and no chordee or any other abnormalities, except that my penis is small in size. Under normal non-erect conditions, little or no penile shaft appears, just the glans.

Fully erect, my penis is usually about five inches long. I don’t have a girth measurement, but it is proportionately slender. I have often wondered if my hypospadias and small penis size are related. From what I read, there’s some truth to that idea. Sexually, I am able to function normally. I have a grown son, who has neither hypospadias nor a small penis.

I guess I was first aware of my difference at eight years, when I saw my friend urinating out the very tip of his penis, while I urinated from somewhere out of the underside. Neither of us thought anything of it, except when my mother complained a lot that I wasn’t careful enough and tended to splatter everywhere.

Well, I never have been quite sure which direction the stream will take, so it’s hard to aim. Usually, it goes about 20 degrees to the left and mostly forward rather than down. Primarily, it still goes that way. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that Gray’s Anatomy helped clarify this for me. I was very glad to discover my hypospadias didn’t open somewhere in the middle of the penile shaft!

However, the ability to have a nice straight stream when you urinate is something most men probably never even have to think about. It’s even worse when your penis is small, and the stream slows a little with age; dribbling on your shoes, or worse, on your clothes in a public place is not fun.

That can be very frustrating and a bit humiliating, especially since it’s something you don’t have a whole lot of control over. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be this way, but since nothing short of major plastic surgery will fix it, I live with it. I don’t consider it a handicap by any means, just something to be “worked around.”

Sexually, my small penis was one reason (among others), for my ambivalence about dating and mixing with girls, but now, after fifty-one years of living with my penis, I have come to terms with it. I am able to function normally, and satisfy my partner. Our sex life is completely satisfying for us both, and I have a normal ejaculation in both quality and quantity.

52 year old in Australia

The more I read about hypospadias, the happier I become because my parents had the wisdom to ignore the surgeons and do nothing about my hypospadias. Though it always bothered them that they may have taken the wrong decision, their decision was taken in the 1950’s when plastic surgery was in its infancy. So I was saved the pain of the surgery, and scars and uncertain results. I still have my hypospadias. I eventually told my father (my mother died when I was twenty three) that I was very happy not to have had surgery, but what really hurt was that they told me absolutely nothing about it.

I have a moderate hypospadias with the opening not far back from the base of the glans. And it all works fairly well without any pain, strictures, scar tissue or misshapen erections.

My penis is not perfectly straight and it is sometimes hard to urinate in a straight line and needs a lot of control but it can be done. I got better at it as I got older and can control it fairly well so that I can urinate with accuracy and without it spraying everywhere. I also have full sexual function and never had any problem with achieving fatherhood. Frankly I have even become somewhat fond of my penis. It is different after all!

I have two children, a boy and a girl, and they are great kids, now twenty nine and twenty four years old. Oh, and my son also has hypospadias. Although it is not strictly inherited, the chances are that once one male in the family has it, about 1 in 14 of his direct male relations will also have it. Since the original condition has about a 1 in 300 rate in the male population, that makes the chances of two in the same family at about 1 in 4000 of male births.

I have checked my family tree and believe that it is likely that it has occurred in at least five other male relatives over five or six generations. Why? One person was named Charlotte at birth and mysteriously was to be married as Charles, but the marriage never happened.

We have guessed that this was a severe hypospadias where he superficially looked female at birth, but became obviously male as his hormones kicked in at puberty, but then could not consummate his marriage, so it was not recorded. I also know of at least four other males who “never married” with little explanation.

At least two of my close male relatives, brothers, also live together in seclusion never having married. Maybe it is all speculation, but there is enough evidence to convince me of the 1 in 14 ratio when you count me and my son in as well.

And yes, to save my son some of the embarrassment I had as a kid growing up in school, we had his hypospadias corrected. Two operations were carried out between two and three years of age, fortunately with no ill effects (he tells me). I doubt that I would have done the same thing today, but at that time, I knew nothing of the risks and he has said he was glad we did it. Fortunately, I think we went to the right place as the surgeons were paediatricians who had trained in the pre-eminent London children’s hospital (Great Ormond Street).

When I look back on the problems I had as a child, they were absolutely nothing when thinking about the pain and suffering some kids go through for a correction – which has a failure rate above 10% for many of the procedures. I have corresponded with many of those affected by failures over the last few years, and for most of the tales I hear I cannot give any advice as they are already disasters. It amazes me the fortitude of some of them, with multiple operations having been performed with (it seems) often only worse and worse results.

I sometimes hear from adults from the Middle East or India who have not been able to have anything done as youngsters, but are now thinking about it before they get married. My advice to them is always the same. If you do not have any physical difficulty with the uncorrected penis, even if it is small and/or bent and causes you embarrassment, it is still probably not worth the risks associated with a correction. But I also emphasize that the decision is that of the owner of the penis, not mine or anyone else’s.

In other words, be aware of the risks and make your own decision based on that knowledge. If you have already reached adulthood, then the worst times for embarrassment are over.

What you need is an open honest relationship with a partner where you explain to them exactly what your penis is like before or when any serious relationship begins to develop. Then it will not be a shock to that person when they see your penis for the first time. In fact you can learn to enjoy the difference, and have fun exploring your capabilities together.

Of course, there will always be a proportion of women who will leave because they are too embarrassed to discuss it. That’s their problem, not yours. It is better to find that out before you commit to a marriage with the embarrassment deferred to the wedding night. I told my future wife about it very early in our relationship (after about four weeks) and although she was mildly curious, it made no difference to our relationship and we have been married for over thirty years.

This was made a little easier for me because she was also a nurse and understood what it was all about. She also now says that I am obsessed with it. As she is so used to it, she cannot understand that it is still be an issue with me, even if only by discussing it on the internet or by email.

When my wife and I separated for a few years, I had a second relationship with another woman who absolutely adored my penis and found our sex life very satisfying indeed. I actually needed that relationship to prove to myself that hypospadias really was not an issue for me. Indeed, it seems that the very shape of the glans being wider than normal is good for a lover as it increases her pleasure. That is a positive you can tell your sons to look forward to, something they have that few other men have!

For adults who are thinking about getting surgical correction because they have been too embarrassed to approach women for marriage or sex, or even to have as a girl friend, I have in the past suggested that they first find out about their sexual capabilities before deciding on a correction. Often the difficulties they are afraid of are more imagined than real, so should not be a reason for surgery, except possibly in the most extreme cases of chordee where the bend is so great as to make sex either impossible or very painful.

If this applies to you, to find out about your sexual capabilities or any problems, why not have an honest approach to your prospective girlfriend or wife? Ask her to try sex with you. This is actually quite a good approach in our more enlightened age, but if that is just not possible for you, how about seeking out a sexual therapist? This would allow you to find out about your own limitations before having to discuss it with a girlfriend or before there are irreconcilable problems in marriage.

I was lucky that I found someone understanding when I was twenty, and it was never an issue between us. Some of the young men I have talked to on the internet are coming up to thirty or older and are still virgins. They are too afraid of ridicule and have not tried to approach a woman for a sexual relationship. They have not had any guidance as children or through puberty and so need psychological help much more than they need surgery.

I believe that living with hypospadias need not be the end of the world, as some doctors seem to think it will be. When I try to discus this with them, they cannot believe that anyone with hypospadias wouldn’t want to have an operation!

What a young boy with hypospadias needs is what I did not have: information early on about what it is, and a connection to others with the condition, so that he does not think he is the only one. So when your sons are old enough to understand, encourage them to find out about it as much as possible and talk to others with the same condition.

The internet is so useful to be able to do this impersonally. This will help them to get through the difficult times whether they have surgery or not. If they talk to someone like me they will learn that they can live with it. Or, when they are old enough to understand the risks, you and they together can take decisions on whether they want to do anything about it or not.

In other words, if you’re a father of a boy with hypospadias you have to talk to your son about it from day one, in the same way that you will slowly introduce him to the facts of life as soon as he can handle them. I have never felt suicidal over my hypospadias, but I have spoken to some who have certainly felt that their life was ruined and have contemplated suicide.

I remember going to an agricultural show with my father when I was fourteen or so and the men’s toilet was a screened off area with an open trough at ground level. I remember being embarrassed at having to pee into that with everyone else as I couldn’t get my urine stream to go in the right place, but I don’t know if anyone else actually noticed it or not. On the way out, however, I noticed a man in the corner and was amazed to see he also had a penis that looked exactly like mine, except of course it was much bigger.

By this time I was fairly convinced I was unique (I used to take every opportunity to try to see others, in the showers at school and elsewhere, but I never saw anything like mine). So when I finally saw another one at the agricultural show, I was exultant as I knew at last that I was not the only one. Even so I was twenty one before I found out from a medical text book that I had a well known condition called hypospadias.

I think that was the point when I also began to live with it and to stop worrying, which finally happened when I went to university and I lost my virginity at twenty two. I have also all my life been much more comfortable in the company of women and find it hard to make friends with men.

I think this stems from both growing up with a sister and my uncomfortable days at my all boys school, where I withdrew from the bulk of my class mates and only trusted a very few of my closest friends with a close up view of my secret . I found women to be much less judgmental and therefore easier to get on with and I could trust them more. The rest of my life has been totally uneventful as far as the hypospadias is concerned.

68 year old in Australia

At fifteen or so I was very proud of my erection, and one day I showed it to a bunch of my friends, who promptly teased me because I had a down-turned glans. They didn’t bother to mention – and it was years until I figured it out – that my penis was much bigger than most of theirs!

Playing with other boys, I also became aware of some differences. No one else had two openings: one at the tip of the glans and another just under the glans. I’ve also got a foreskin hood that partially covers just the top of my. Of course, having two openings means that the direction of my urine is rather unpredictable – I often miss the toilet at the start, though a urinal can handle it.

When I sought counselling in college to try and figure things out the psychiatrist sent me to a urologist, who looked at my erection and said I had nothing to worry about since my penis would work just fine and was bigger than most. If he mentioned hypospadias, I don’t remember. But I still worried that because my penis head curved down, I wouldn’t be able to perform intercourse, and the head is also shorter than most, so my penis seems blunt.

When I was in high school I incorrectly attributed the downward curvature to the confining influence of my briefs on my constant erections – just one of the many ideas I came up with when explanations of my hypospadias weren’t offered.

I didn’t really come to terms with my gay nature until 1975 when I was thirty two. I used to worry about my penis being different from what it was “supposed to be”, but once I became sexually active as a gay man I realized that the differences weren’t particularly important to me or my partners. Occasionally someone comments about the extra urethral opening, but I’ve heard no complaints.

If I have any regrets, it’s that I wasted a lot of energy worrying about being different because no one dared to explain my penis to me while I was growing up. My advice to someone else with hypospadias would be to learn about yourself, learn that yours is just one of a rich variety of variation that nature has given us and try the many pleasant and enriching ways of employing it. You’ll soon find yours to be quite serviceable and appreciated.