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What are disorders of sexual development, or intersex conditions?

Disorders of sexual development are conditions where an individual is born with physical, genetic, or hormonal characteristics that do not fit the typical definitions of a male or female body. This can include a combination of male and female genitalia, atypical chromosomes, or variations in internal reproductive organs. Intersexuality is a natural variation in human biology and can manifest in many different ways, often with unique characteristics for each individual.


The diagnosis of intersexuality is often complex, usually involving a combination of physical examinations, genetic testing, and assessments of hormonal status. In some cases, characteristics may be visible immediately after birth, while in other situations they may not become apparent until the individual reaches puberty.


Intersex conditions often do not require any medical treatment. They encompass a wide range of natural biological variations, and not every variation carries health risks or issues that would necessitate medical intervention. In many cases, the physical characteristics of a person with a sexual development disorder do not negatively impact their physical health.
Decisions about surgical interventions are extremely personal and should be made with care, considering health, psychological, social, and ethical aspects. It is recommended to postpone unnecessary surgical interventions until the individual reaches a sufficient level of maturity. Consulting a multidisciplinary team of experts, including urologists, endocrinologists, psychologists, and other relevant specialists, is crucial in devising a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan. Providing continuous psychosocial support to individuals with sexual development disorders and their families is of utmost importance in the decision-making process regarding medical treatments. Understanding, acceptance, and support enable people with intersex conditions to lead fulfilling lives in harmony with their identity and aspirations.
In some cases, individuals with intersexuality may consider surgical interventions for functional improvements or to align their physical appearance with their personal identity. It’s important that decisions about surgical procedures are voluntary and based on fully informed consent. Surgical options include genitoplasty, which involves the surgical reshaping of the genitals to improve function or aesthetic appearance; correction of the urinary tract to enhance the function of the urinary system; gonadectomy, or the removal of gonads, which may be considered for medical reasons; and vaginoplasty or phalloplasty, concerning the construction or reconstruction of the vagina or penis to improve quality of life and align with the individual’s gender identity.