Unsplash | Alex Hockett

For The First Time Ever, A Baby Has Been Born With Three Penises

We're all born different from everybody else in the world, human but unique in our own, special ways, made so by the mysterious stew of genetics passed along by our parents. It's what makes us six-foot-two-with-eyes-of-blue, or gives us long, piano-playing fingers, or feet that only fit the least popular sizes of shoes.

While you can generally make some predictions on how a baby will turn out just going by the parents' features and traits, there are still going to be some surprises in store. But nothing could have prepared one baby's parents from a thoroughly unexpected development.

Just when we thought we had seen everything human physiology had to offer, nature came along with something completely new: a baby born with three penises.

Unsplash | Dragos Gontariu

According to a case study published in the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports in 2020, the baby was born in Iraq, and the parents weren't quite sure what was going on at first.

Presented to medical professionals at three months of age, the parents had simply noticed "left sided scrotal swelling and 2 skin projections in the perineum."

Further examination confirmed that those skin projections were indeed two extra penises.

Unsplash | Phil Goodwin

As the case notes described, one of the extra penises was growing from the base of the original penis, while the other had sprouted below the scrotum.

Supernumerary penises, as the condition is known, is extremely rare — about 100 known cases are recorded in medical literature, and duplicate penises are believed to occur in about one in five or six million births. However, up to this point, it has only involved one extra penis, called diphallia — this is the first known case of triphallia.

It's unknown exactly how this child came to have three penises.

Unsplash | Jakob Owens

They would have developed in utero, between the third and sixth weeks of gestation, according to the case notes, and while they can be caused by environmental factors like drugs or infections, the parents had no history of drug exposures, nor did they have a history of relevant genetic abnormalities.

This condition is actually quite delicate both in terms of medical and ethical treatment.

Unsplash | Christof W.

There's ample reason to be cautious treating such a condition as the presence of extra penises can cause anomalies with the urethra as well. Left untreated, the penises might just get in the way, but they could also cause issues with the digestive system or the urinary tract.

In this case, specialists were brought in to remove the patient's supernumerary penises, and the surgery went smoothly. A follow-up exam a year later showed no adverse effects, and the child is believed to be perfectly healthy. Further follow-ups were encouraged before puberty and marriage.

h/t: International Journal of Surgery Case Reports

Filed Under: