The most common treatment options for developmental disorders of the female reproductive tract involve surgical interventions. For example, a blocked vagina or imperforate hymen can be corrected with surgery. The timing of surgery depends on the severity of the condition. Life threatening problems may require a procedure shortly after birth. Other surgeries are performed while the child is an infant, but some may be delayed for a period of years.
Surgery is sometimes done to create a new vagina when one did not develop normally. The operation, done when a girl becomes a young adult, includes the use of a device known as a dilator to keep the new vagina open. A non-surgical procedure uses a dilator over a period of four to six months to stretch the area where the vagina should be.
Cloacal abnormalities often require multiple, complex operations to repair developmental problems with the vagina, urinary tract and rectum.
Due to the complexity of intersex disorders such as ambiguous genitalia, treatment has consequences that are both immediate and long lasting. For that reason, surgery may be postponed while the actual gender is determined. In the past, sex was assigned based on the appearance of the genitals and not the child’s chromosome pattern. It also is easier to construct female genitals than those of a male, but that factor is no longer considered as valid a reason for gender assignment. Because a person’s gender also is based on chromosomes, hormones, neural function, and psychological and behavioral factors, doctors often recommend delaying surgery as long as it is healthy to do so. Treatment for these reproductive development disorders often includes counseling for the parents and the child.