Early genital surgery: high failure rate, sexual dysfunction

Classification: News

In the article titled "New perspectives on the management of intersex" in June 30, 2001 issue of The Lancet (v.357, issue 9274, p.2110), Lisa Melton reports new research contradicting the claim that early surgical interventions benefit intersex children. Follow up studies by Catherine Minto and Sarah Creighton at University College Hospitals in London of intersex women who had their clitoris operated on had more sexual problems than those who escaped surgery.

Minto and Creighton also found that most girls who underwent early vaginoplasty still needed major surgeries as adults in order to have sexual intercourse. "If they need [additional] major vaginal surgery [as an adult] to have sex, then they don't need a vagina as a baby," says Creighton. (Article available online at The Lancet with free registration, although we were unable to make a direct link to it).

The study itself is reported as a Research Letter in the Lancet 2001;358:124-5.