A Cross-Section Study of the Ontogeny of Gender Roles in Women with DSD

Curr Pediatr Rev. 2015;11(1):27-35. doi: 10.2174/1573396311666150501003541.


A review of gender role (GR) differentiation from early childhood through adulthood was conducted on males and females in general, as well as on females affected by congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency or complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS). Additionally, retrospective and current, self-rated GR assessments were evaluated from women with CAH (n = 9) or CAIS (n = 12), and unaffected women and men ranging in age from 16 to 59 years. Overall, GR differentiation occurs in early childhood and persists through adulthood. With advanced age, this differentiation may evolve into androgyny or even become undifferentiated for the general population. While more studies of GR exist for girls and women with CAH compared to those affected by CAIS, some developmental patterns can be observed from the limited data that exist. First, girls and women with CAIS report a female GR that persists through adulthood. Second, girls and women with CAH are more likely to report less feminine/ more masculine play in childhood followed by interests in male-typical leisure activities and career choices in adulthood. However, our data indicate that women with CAH report more feminine/ less masculine patterns of GR with age. Self-reported GR for women with CAH was indistinguishable from that of women with CAIS at the time of study participation in adulthood. With the availability of effective medications for treating hormone deficiencies associated with CAH, affected women are expected to live a full lifespan. Thus, our understanding of psychosexual development into older age is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / psychology*
  • Androgen-Insensitivity Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Androgen-Insensitivity Syndrome / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings / psychology*
  • Psychosexual Development / physiology*

Supplementary concepts

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 21 hydroxylase deficiency