Fully Masculinized 46,XX Individuals with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: Perspective Regarding Sex of Rearing and Surgery

Document Type : Commentary


1 University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States of America

2 Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, GA, United States of America

3 Department of Urology, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

4 Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States of America


Current guidelines for gender assignment for all 46,XX congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) continue to be female. 
This decision is most challenging for individuals with a 46,XX karyotype born with (CAH) having severely masculinized genitalia (Prader 4 or 5). They may be at significant risk for quality of life (QoL) and psychological health. More outcome information currently exists for such individuals assigned male than female. Most available data for those raised females do not indicate the extent of masculinization at birth, so there are minimal outcome data to compare with those raised males. Gender dissatisfaction among those raised females may be related to the degree of prenatal androgen excess in the brain evidenced by external genital masculinization. Also, additional brain maturation after birth, especially during puberty, is impacted by postnatal androgen excess resulting from inadequate androgen suppression. The purpose of this perspective is to suggest that both female and male assignment be considered. Most who have been raised male at birth have positive adult outcomes. This consideration should occur after discussions with full disclosure to the parents. The lack of more outcome data highlights the need for further information. This perspective also suggests that surgery should be deferred whether assigned female or male at least until gender identity is apparent to preserve the potential for male sexual function and prevent irrevocable loss of sensitive erotic tissue. While the gender fluidity is recognized, it is important to consider potential subsequent need for gender reassignment and extent of masculinization, particularly at the time of gender determination.


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