MPILO Central Hospital surgeons have called on people with ambiguous genitalia to register with the hospital to undergo medical examination to prevent them from developing cancer.
Addressing journalists at the hospital on Tuesday, clinical director Solwayo Ngwenya said the condition was complex and sensitive and had become rife in Matabeleland province and South Africa mostly due to historical migrations.
“The condition has an immense life-altering impact from reproductive health, social stigma and psychological effects,” Ngwenya said.
Ambiguous genitalia is a rare condition in which an infant’s external genitals don’t appear to be clearly either male or female.
In a baby with ambiguous genitalia, the genitals may be incompletely developed or the baby may have characteristics of both sexes.
Ngwenya said tests can be run at an early stage to determine the dominant sex for the baby and the surgery procedure can be safely done even when the baby is around seven or 12 months old.
He said most people suffer this condition because their parents choose a sex for their new-born baby from an uninformed position, which disadvantages the child as they grow and reach puberty.
“We want to assist these people so that they do not get to this stage. Prevalence of this condition is around 1,7%. The most common condition is one where the person is actually a girl, but because of bio-chemical and enzyme problem inside the body, this leads to a lack of an enzyme,” Ngwenya said.
“It leads to quite a number of androgens being produced (testosterone). From birth the person appears to be male, when they are actually female. Due to that, the girl is hence brought up as a male. In reality, this person is actually female and can have children. They have the uterus and ovaries. Second group is those with both male and female organs. One can predominate as a male or female and relatives will raise the child as such.”