We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Intersex Surgery?

By Andrea Cross
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Intersex surgery is a category performed on individuals who have had irregular sexual development and require reconstructive surgery to restore or improve appearance and function of their genitalia. Disorders of sexual development (DSD) can occur as congenital disorders or defects or from early injury to the sex organs. Numerous conditions exist that may require intersex surgery and include chromosomal, gonadal, and phenotypical sex disorders. A surgeon generally performs this type of operation to make a patient look and function more as a typical female or more as a typical male.

The degree of intersex surgery the surgeon performs is based on the severity of the patient's condition. This may consist of a relatively straightforward surgery, such as the cosmetic reconstruction of the vagina. Surgery may also be much more complex, such as assigning a gender to an individual whose gender is ambiguous. If the DSD is identified at birth, the surgeon usually performs the surgery before the patient is 24 months old. Surgery is often supplemented with hormone therapy.

Intersex surgery is performed for a number of reasons. Physically, it can help patients to function more normally in terms of continence, sexuality, and fertility. It can also help the patient socially as it places him or her more firmly in one gender or another and reduces abnormalities that may cause social awkwardness or dysfunction. Surgery is believed to subsequently help both patients and their families from a psychological perspective by enabling them to better conform to cultural norms.

This, however, is also what makes intersex surgery controversial. There are many ethical questions surrounding the surgery and its future implications for the individual. Normally, the patient is treated not only by the surgeon but also by a team of specialists that may include counselors, geneticists, and endocrinologists. This is especially true for patients who are having gender assignment or reassignment surgery.

The ethical questions of performing the surgery on an infant who cannot make a choice about gender and the future physical and psychological implications have prompted much debate about the procedure, especially as some patients feel later in life that their surgeries were inappropriate. Although often performed when the patient is an infant, surgery may also be carried out when a patient is old enough to make an informed decision about his or her own gender. This debate is especially important for those patients for whom the surgery is not medically necessary but rather a social or cultural choice.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.