How common is intersex? a response to Anne Fausto-Sterling

J Sex Res. 2002 Aug;39(3):174-8. doi: 10.1080/00224490209552139.


Anne Fausto-Sterling s suggestion that the prevalence of intersex might be as high as 1.7% has attracted wide attention in both the scholarly press and the popular media. Many reviewers are not aware that this figure includes conditions which most clinicians do not recognize as intersex, such as Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, and late-onset adrenal hyperplasia. If the term intersex is to retain any meaning, the term should be restricted to those conditions in which chromosomal sex is inconsistent with phenotypic sex, or in which the phenotype is not classifiable as either male or female. Applying this more precise definition, the true prevalence of intersex is seen to be about 0.018%, almost 100 times lower than Fausto-Sterling s estimate of 1.7%.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / epidemiology
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / genetics
  • Birth Rate
  • Disorders of Sex Development / epidemiology*
  • Disorders of Sex Development / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Klinefelter Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Klinefelter Syndrome / genetics
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Chromosome Aberrations / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Determination Analysis
  • Turner Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Turner Syndrome / genetics