True hermaphroditism: geographical distribution, clinical findings, chromosomes and gonadal histology

Eur J Pediatr. 1994 Jan;153(1):2-10. doi: 10.1007/BF02000779.


We reviewed 283 cases of human true hermaphroditism published from 1980 to 1992. Of the 96 cases described in Africa 96.9% showed a 46,XX karyotype. In Europe 40.5% of 74 cases and 21.0% of the patients in North America had chromosomal mosaicism. The 46,XY karyotype is extremely rare (7%) and equally distributed through Asia, Europe and North America. Of 283 cases 87 were of black or black mixed origin with a 46,XX chromosomal constellation. The most common gonad in patients with true hermaphroditism, an ovotestis, was found in 44.4% of 568 gonads. Gonads with testicular tissue were more frequent on the right side of the body, while pure ovarian tissue was more common on the left. Histologically the testicular tissue was described to be immature and only twice was spermatogenesis reported while the ovarian portion often appeared normal. This coincides with 21 pregnancies reported in ten true hermaphrodites while only one true hermaphrodite apparently has fathered a child. Of the patients 4.6% were reported to have gonadal tumours. Position and type of the genital ducts, frequency of clinical findings such as genital abnormalities and gynaecomastia, correlations between assigned sex and karyotype as well as the age at diagnosis are reported.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disorders of Sex Development / epidemiology*
  • Disorders of Sex Development / genetics
  • Disorders of Sex Development / pathology
  • Female
  • Gonads / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping
  • Male
  • Sex Chromosome Aberrations*