Intersex people’s experiences of medical interventions, sex education, and physical intimacy

Israel Berger, Y. Gavriel Ansara, Damien Riggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study reported in this paper explores the experiences of 95 people with intersex variations constituting an international English-speaking sample who completed a mixed methods survey comprised of questions designed by the authors to explore 1) genital variations and medical interventions (and pressures to undertake them), 2) experiences with sex education, and 3) experience of physical intimacy, including use of safer sex devices and sexually transmitted infections. Surgeries on minors were common and typically not consensual, often resulting in the need for revisions. Pressures for surgeries most commonly were made by doctors. Experiences of sex education often failed to be inclusive of intersex bodies, with information about menstruation and hygiene rarely provided, and many participants having to learn on their own. Participants had a diversity of experiences of physical intimacy beyond penetration. For those who had experienced penetration, vaginal intercourse was enjoyable for some, but many found it painful. Conversely, anal intercourse was enjoyed by many and rarely found to be painful. The paper concludes by highlighting the importance of an intersex-specific approach to sexual health for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology and Sexuality
Early online date28 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Aug 2023


  • Intersex
  • medical intervention
  • physical intimacy
  • sex education


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