Intersex Conditions occur when a person is born with external sexual anatomy that does not fit the genetic sex. It can be noticed at birth or appear years later. Symptoms include sexual anatomy that is large or small, missing, atypically shaped, or not working properly.
Risks vary based on the type of intersex condition someone has. Most cases do not require immediate medical attention, but need to be addressed as a child goes through puberty. The child may have different hormone levels or anatomy that needs attention.
One of the most common intersex conditions is Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH). CAH affects the adrenal glands, which are near your kidneys, causing them to create incorrect hormone levels. These hormones then cause CAH by creating larger than normal anatomy. This process occurs while a child is in the womb. After birth there may be high amounts of body hair, receding hairline, or larger muscles. Some babies with CAH are born with life-threatening medical conditions that are easily treated when they are identified. Females with CAH may be intersex, but males do not have affected genitalia. Therefore, it is easier to determine when females are affected, and males are in danger for life threatening medical complications if they go undiagnosed.
Intersex conditions often occur from altered genes or form while a child is in the womb. Doctors make different decisions about what is atypical because there is not a clear definition of the correct size or shape of sexual anatomy. Doctors can give hormonal or genetic tests to diagnose intersex conditions. Treatment will also vary for each intersex condition or may not be necessary. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with an intersex condition, talk with your doctor about the most current treatment options as well as signs that you may need immediate medical attention. Support groups are also good sources for support and information.