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J Urol. 2008 Feb;179(2):634-8. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

Sexual function and genital sensitivity following feminizing genitoplasty for congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

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Middlesex Centre, University College London Institute of Women's Health, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Obstetric Hospital, and Institute of Urology, University College London Hospital (CRJW), London, United Kingdom.



Female sex assignment followed by cosmetic genitoplasty to feminize the genitalia in infancy remains standard practice in the clinical management of ambiguous genitalia. The effects of surgery on genital sensitivity have never been objectively evaluated. To our knowledge the current study is the first to evaluate genital sensitivity and sexual function in women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.


A total of 28 women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia and 10 normal controls were recruited. Details of prior genital surgery were obtained from medical records. Sensitivity thresholds for the clitoris and upper vagina were measured using a GenitoSensory Analyzer (Medoc, Ramat, Israel). Sexual function was assessed using a standardized measure.


Of 28 women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia 24 had undergone feminizing genital surgery. In women who underwent surgery there was significant impairment to sensitivity in the clitoris compared to controls. No difference was observed for the sensitivity threshold in the upper vagina, where surgery had not been done in any of the women. Data on the 4 women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia who had not undergone surgery were similar to those in controls. Sexual function difficulties were more severe in women who underwent surgery, especially vaginal penetration difficulties and intercourse frequency. Linear relationships were observed for impairment to sensitivity and severity of sexual difficulties.


Genital sensitivity is impaired in areas where feminizing genital surgery had been done and impairment to sensitivity are linearly related to difficulties in sexual function. The new information may help inform clinicians and parents making difficult decisions about genital surgery for infants with ambiguous genitalia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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