Meatal Stenosis: A-to-Z Guide from Diagnosis to Treatment to Prevention

Meatal stenosis is the name given to the narrowing of the opening of the urethra. In the majority of cases, this is the opening at the tip of the penis.

The urethra is the small tube through which urine exits the bladder. The opening where the urethra leaves the body is called the meatus. In boys, this is normally found at the tip of the penis (except in boys with hypospadius).

What is it?

The name given to the narrowing of the opening of the urethra. In the majority of cases, this is the opening at the tip of the penis. This narrowing is enough to affect urine flow.

Who gets it?

Meatal stenosis is not common. It is very rare in girls.

It is most common in circumcised boys. Boys are not born with meatal stenosis. Some time after circumcision, irritation or inflammation of the opening leads to the formation of scar tissue. This causes the narrowing of the opening.

Meatal stenosis may occur at any point in childhood, but symptoms are most often noticed between 3 and 8 years old.

What are the symptoms?

You might notice your son dribbling or spraying urine, straining to urinate, or having a very narrow urine stream. The stream may leave the penis at an angle.

Boys with meatal stenosis will often urinate more often, and take longer to urinate. Sometimes they have blood in the urine (hematuria).

Urinary tract infections are a bit more common in boys with meatal stenosis. Often they complain of burning or discomfort with urination, even in the absence of a urinary tract infection.

Is it contagious?


How long does it last?

Meatal stenosis may last until treated.

How is it diagnosed?

The diagnosis is based on the history and physical exam.

How is it treated?

It is usually mild, but sometimes it needs to be corrected surgically. The procedure may be done on an outpatient basis, or even in a doctor’s office with local anesthetic.

How can it be prevented?

Decreasing irritation to the tip of the penis may prevent some cases. This might include avoiding irritating detergents or fragrances, wet or rough underclothes, and some kinds of diapers.

Leaving the foreskin intact is another way to prevent meatal stenosis.

Penis tip, red.

Last medical review on: October 17, 2013
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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