• sexual function;
  • female genitalia;
  • congenital adrenal hyperplasia;
  • clitoris;
  • sensation


To assess sensation in the clitoris and vagina in women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) who have previously had genital surgery, and to evaluate sexual function in this group as the latter, and particularly the experience of orgasm, appear to be closely related to sensitivity.


Six women were recruited from a multidisciplinary clinic specialising in intersex conditions, and representing an initial cohort from a larger ongoing study. The patients were asked to complete a postal questionnaire with a specialized sexual function assessment. Thermal, vibratory and light-touch sensory thresholds were assessed in the clitoris and vagina using a genito-sensory analyser and Von Frey filaments.


All six women had highly abnormal results for sensation in the clitoris. Only three of them had an introitus capable of admitting the vaginal probe, and the vaginal sensory data of all three were within the validated ranges. A self-administered sexual function assessment was completed by the five women who were sexually active. The scores indicated sexual difficulties, particularly in the areas of infrequency of intercourse and anorgasmia.


The sensory data for all six women were outside the normal range for the clitoris. The results for the upper vagina, which had not had surgery, were within normal ranges. These findings suggest that genital surgery may disrupt sensory input. Sexual function also appears to be impaired and this may relate to the compromised sensitivity and restricted introitus. The possibility that women with CAH have deficient clitoral sensation ab initio cannot be excluded. These striking findings must be evaluated further in the light of the controversy about the issue of genital surgery in children with CAH.