Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 227–236 | Cite as

Disorders of sex development (DSDs), their presentation and management in different cultures

  • Garry L. WarneEmail author
  • Jamal Raza


The way disorders of sex development (DSD) are viewed and managed in different cultures varies widely. They are complex conditions and even well-educated lay people find them difficult to understand, but when families are very poor and lacking in basic education, and the health system is starved of resources, traditional beliefs, folk remedies and prejudice combine to make the lives of children and adults with DSD extremely difficult and sad. Rumour and discrimination isolate them from their communities and they become devalued. People with DSDs desire the same things in life as everyone else—to find someone who will love them, to be valued as human beings, to feel at home in their own bodies, to be able to have satisfactory sexual relations should these be desired, to be able to trust their medical advisers and to be integrated into the general community. Long term outcome studies have been published from many countries, but these studies have not necessarily been critical of the values that underpinned the type of treatment given to the patients. There is a need for standardized instruments that would allow a true comparison of the quality of outcomes from the patients’ perspective. Much could be done to improve equity between rich and poor countries for the benefit of people with DSDs. A focus on developing cheap, robust diagnostic tests, making essential medicines available for all, training surgeons to do better operations, educating health professionals, families and the general community in order to break down prejudice against people with DSDs, and training mental health workers in this specialized field, would do much to alleviate the burden of the condition.


Disorders of sex development Culture Long-term outcome Genital surgery Gender identity Poverty 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Endocrinology and DiabetesRoyal Children’s HospitalMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PaediatricsNational Institute of Child HealthKarachiPakistan

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