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Could you be intersex? Scientists say you now have a 1 in 100 chance

Could you be intersex? Scientists say you now have a 1 in 100 chance

As many as one in 100 people could in some way could be described as intersex, scientists have said.

Dr Claire Ainsworth, a developmental biologist, has argued advances in research mean the traditional two-sex ‘male’ and ‘female’ notion is outdated, and that chromosomes, anatomy, cells and hormones often don’t all conform.

While it was once thought that one in 2000 babies are born intersex, this could be a vast underestimation.

Ainsworth, and other researchers, have done new research on differences in sex development (DSDs), which could lead to a difference in a person’s anatomical or physiological sex.

For example, there is a DSD called congenital adrenal hyperplasia. In some individuals, this could lead to ambiguous genitalia such as an enlarged clitoris.

But in women, it could lead to ‘male-like’ facial and body hair, irregular periods or fertility problems. Sex, the researchers have found, is a spectrum.

John Achermann, who studies sex development at UCL, told Nature: ‘I think there’s much greater diversity within male or female, and there is certainly an area of overlap where some people can’t easily define themselves within the binary structure.’

Ainsworth’s research has concluded the idea that men are made of XY and women are made of XX is an outdated concept.

‘Sex can be much more complicated than it at first seems,’ she says.

Rather than anatomy or genitalia dictating what sex a person is, ‘if you want to know whether someone is male or female, it may be best just to ask’.