An endocrinology clinic in Uganda successfully operated an 11-year-old child so she could live comfortably as a boy. The child was born a girl and raised as one but her parents said her organs started changing as she grew older. Her clitoris turned into a penis, a condition which medics said was caused by the presence of high levels of testosterone, which are male hormones in her body.
The paediatric endocrinologist who runs the clinic says that 10 per cent of the cases she handles are of children battling disorders of sex development who have been raised in different sex from theirs, and the treatment centre is currently seeing 39 individuals with such disorders and 28 per cent of them are adolescents. Other than reporting at birth or when still little children, many reports for treatment at adolescence or adulthood when the situation is more challenging to treat.
“We see many conditions and disorders of sexual development. When we started, we found that it is one of the commonest conditions. It’s next to diabetes and rickets,” said Dr. Piloya.
While it’s not just identifying those that require correction procedures, those with the condition require psychologists to help them in the transition. Alternatively, the victims could undergo psychosocial counselling before surgery but most of the time it’s not done.
She noted that if these disorders of sex development are identified early and corrected, one will be able to function normally but it gets challenging as one is transitioning to adulthood because fertility can be compromised. Training obstetricians and paediatricians to identify such cases early and provide care could cut down on the costs.