Disorders of sex development and female reproductive capacity: A literature review

Syst Biol Reprod Med. 2021 Oct;67(5):323-336. doi: 10.1080/19396368.2021.1937376. Epub 2021 Jul 1.


Disorders of sex development (DSD) are a wide-ranging group of complex conditions that influence chromosomal, gonadal, and phenotypic sex. The prevalence of DSD is very low, but affected patients deserve individualized management to improve psychological, sexual, and reproductive outcomes. This review aims to clarify the fertility potential of DSD patients who can be reared as females and their chance of becoming pregnant, especially using assisted reproductive techniques (ART). Due to the effects of DSD on internal and external genital organs, these conditions result in varying degrees of fertility potential. Fertility rate depends on the phenotype and is inversely related to the severity of the disorder. Reproductive endocrinologists and infertility specialists must be considered active partners of the interdisciplinary treatment team. With current advances in ART, pregnancy is more achievable in patients who were considered infertile at first glance. Due to the complexity of the medical management in DSD patients, more studies should be conducted to conclusively suggest the best choice for improving their fertility potential.Abbreviations: AIS: Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome; AMH: Anti-Müllerian Hormone; ART: Assisted Reproductive Technology; ASRM: American Society for Reproductive Medicine; CAH: Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia; CAIS: Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome; DHT: Dihydrotestosterone; DSD: Disorders of Sexual Development; FSH: Follicle Stimulating Hormone; GD: Gonadal Dysgenesis; ICSI: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection; IUGR: Intrauterine Growth Restriction; IVF: In Vitro Fertilization; IVF-ET: IVF and Embryo Transfer; LH: Luteinizing Hormone; MGD: Mixed Gonadal Dysgenesis; MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging; MRKH: Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser; US: Ultrasonography; HSG: Hysterosalpingography; PAIS: Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome; PGD: Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis; POR: P450 Oxidoreductase; PROM: Premature Rupture of Membranes; TS: Turner Syndrome; 17β-HSD III: 17β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase III; 21-OHD: 21-hydroxylase deficiency; 5α-RD-2: 5α-reductase-2.

Keywords: Disorders of sex development; female fertility; reproductive techniques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disorders of Sex Development*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction
  • Sexual Development


  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone