We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More


By Josie Glausiusz
Oct 1, 2001 5:00 AMNov 12, 2019 6:13 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Between one in 2,000 and one in 10,000 babies are born with genitalia that seem neither male nor female, or both. Surgeons typically operate on such infants by age 1 and assign them to the female sex, a procedure that has become controversial (See Discover, January 2000). A recent study amplifies the concerns. Gynecologist Sarah Creighton at University College London Hospitals surveyed 44 adolescents who had undergone feminizing genital surgery in infancy and found that almost half were dissatisfied with the results. Forty-three required further treatment to use tampons or have intercourse, or for cosmetic reasons. Of the 26 whose parents were told their children would need only one operation, 23 underwent repeated surgery. "Parents want their children to look like everyone else's," says Creighton, but she advises delaying surgery until adolescence. "Then the girl can be involved in the decision, and she'd be less likely to need repeated surgery."

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.