What does the term “intersex” mean?
The term “intersex” is used to describe disorders of sex development (DSDs) – situations in which a fetus develops differently from a typical male or female.
For example, a baby may be born with female chromosomes, ovaries, and a uterus, but have enlarged clitoris that resembles a penis. Or, a child may be born with male chromosomes but no testes and ambiguous external genitalia. It’s also possible for a baby to be born with one ovary and one testis.
Intersex conditions start when a baby is developing in the womb. They are sometimes caused by genetic problems. In some cases, hormones that help a baby’s development don’t function properly.
Some examples of intersex conditions are:
Complete androgen deficiency syndrome. A child is genetically male but has female reproductive organs.
Vaginal agenesis. A girl is born without a fully-developed vagina.
Micropenis. A boy’s penis is much smaller than average.
True gonadal intersex. A child is born with both an ovary and a testis or an ovotestis (a single organ that has characteristics of an ovary and a testis).