Ovotesticular Difference of Sex Development: Genetic Background, Histological Features, and Clinical Management

Horm Res Paediatr. 2023;96(2):180-189. doi: 10.1159/000519323. Epub 2021 Sep 1.


Background: Ovotesticular disorder/difference of sex development (DSD) refers to the co-presence of testicular and ovarian tissue in one individual. Childhood management is challenging as there are many uncertainties regarding etiology, gonadal function, and gender outcome.

Summary: Ovotesticular DSD should mainly be considered in 46,XX children with atypical genitalia and normal adrenal steroid profiles. Various underlying genetic mechanisms have been described. Histological assessment of ovotestes requires expert revision and has many pitfalls. Neonatal sex assignment is essential, but as gender outcome is unpredictable, this should be regarded as provisional until a stable gender identity has developed. Therefore, it is crucial not to perform any irreversible medical or surgical procedure in affected individuals until adolescents can give their full informed consent. Gonadal function mostly allows for spontaneous pubertal development; however, fertility is compromised, especially in boys. Specific long-term outcome data for ovotesticular DSD are lacking but can be extrapolated from studies in other DSD populations.

Key messages: Management of ovotesticular DSD has changed in recent years, prioritizing the child's future right for autonomy and self-determination. The benefits and pitfalls of this new approach have not been documented yet and require intensive monitoring on an international scale.

Keywords: Difference of sex development; Gonadal dysgenesis; Ovotestis; Sexual development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Disorders of Sex Development* / genetics
  • Disorders of Sex Development* / therapy
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Genetic Background
  • Genitalia / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Ovotesticular Disorders of Sex Development* / genetics
  • Ovotesticular Disorders of Sex Development* / pathology
  • Ovotesticular Disorders of Sex Development* / therapy
  • Sexual Development / genetics