Questions on Intersex - APA

1. What does intersex means ?
A variety of conditions that lead to atypical development of physical sex characteristics are collectively referred to as intersex conditions. These conditions can involve abnormalities of the external genitals, internal reproductive organs, sex chromosomes, or sex-related hormones. Some examples include:
  • External genitals that cannot be easily classified as male or female 
  • Incomplete or unusual development of the internal reproductive organs 
  • Inconsistency between the external genitals and the internal reproductive organs 
  • Abnormalities of the sex chromosomes 
  • Abnormal development of the testes or ovaries 
  • Over- or underproduction of sex-related hormones 
  • Inability of the body to respond normally to sex-related hormones
Intersex was originally a medical term that was later embraced by some intersex persons. Many experts and persons with intersex conditions have recently recommended adopting the term disorders of sex development (DSD). They feel that this term is more accurate and less stigmatizing than the term intersex.

2. How common are Intersex conditions? 
There is no simple answer to this question. Intersex conditions are not always accurately diagnosed, experts sometimes disagree on exactly what qualifies as an intersex condition, and government agencies do not collect statistics about intersex individuals. Some experts estimate that as many as 1 in every 1,500 babies is born with genitals that cannot easily be classified as male or female.

3. Are Intersex conditions always apparent at birth ? 
Not always. Some intersex conditions cause babies to be born with genitals that cannot easily be classified as male or female (called ambiguous genitals). These intersex conditions are usually recognized at birth. The first four conditions listed above—congenital adrenal hyperplasia, 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, and penile agenesis—are in this category. Other intersex conditions, including the last four conditions listed above—complete androgen insensitivity, Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, and vaginal agenesis—usually do not result in ambiguous genitals and may not be recognized at birth. Babies born with these conditions are assigned to the sex consistent with their genitals, just like other babies. Their intersex conditions may only become apparent later in life, often around the time of puberty.

4. What are some examples for Intersex conditons? 
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, in which overproduction of hormones in the adrenal gland causes masculinization of the genitals in female infants. 
  • 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, in which low levels of an enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, cause incomplete masculinization of the genitals in male infants 
  • Partial androgen insensitivity, in which cells do not respond normally to testosterone and related hormones, causing incomplete masculinization of the genitals in male infants 
  • Penile agenesis, in which male infants are born without a penis 
  • Complete androgen insensitivity, in which cells do not respond at all to testosterone and related hormones, causing female-appearing genitals in infants with male chromosomes 
  • Klinefelter syndrome, in which male infants are born with an extra X (female) chromosome, which typically causes incomplete masculinization and other anomalies 
  • Turner syndrome, in which female infants are born with one, rather than two, X (female) chromosomes, causing developmental anomalies 
  • Vaginal agenesis, in which female infants are born without a vagina



read more here: Understanding Intersex