Managing intersex

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7324.1264 (Published 1 December 2001)
Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1264

Get access to this article and all of bmj.com for the next 14 days

Sign up for a 14 day free trial today

Access to the full text of this article requires a subscription or payment. Please log in or subscribe below.

Most vaginal surgery in childhood should be deferred

  1. Sarah Creighton, consultant gynaecologist,
  2. Catherine Minto, gynaecology research fellow
  1. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Obstetric Hospital, University College London Hospitals, London WC1E 6DH
  2. Academic Unit of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College London, London WC1E 6AU

    For over 40 years doctors have been in the impossible situation of making momentous decisions for intersex children, without well founded scientific principles and with little more to guide them than a personal hunch that they were doing the “right thing for the child.” Despite rapid advances in understanding sexual differentiation and increased accuracy of diagnosis, the clinical management of intersex has changed little. Recently the medical profession has been confronted by the powerfully critical voices of intersex consumer groups (www.cah.org.uk/; www.isna.org/; www.medhelp.org/www/ais). With a serious deficiency of any evidence base, emotive debates on ethics, and clinical concerns over the long term consequences of interventions, it is time to stand back and rethink every aspect of this management.14

    Intersex conditions consist of a blending or mix of the internal and external physical features usually classified as male or female—for example, an infant with ambiguous genitalia or a woman with XY chromosomes. Actual prevalence figures are unknown, with population estimates of 0.1% to 2%, though figures can be distorted by varying definitions of intersex.5 When intersex is recognised in infancy, doctors decide if the …

    Get access to this article and all of bmj.com for the next 14 days

    Sign up for a 14 day free trial today

    Access to the full text of this article requires a subscription or payment. Please log in or subscribe below.

    Article access

    Article access for 1 day

    Purchase this article for £20 $30 €32*

    The PDF version can be downloaded as your personal record

    * Prices do not include VAT

    THIS WEEK'S POLL