Objectives To perform a qualitative study of stigma experienced in medical settings by children and adolescents with congenital genital ambiguity (CGA). Methods 62 women with classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) of variable severity took part in a qualitative retrospective interview that focused on the impact of CAH and its medical treatment, with an emphasis on childhood and adolescence. Categorization of stigmatization was based on deductive content analysis of the interview transcripts. Results Many women recalled experiencing the genital examinations in childhood and adolescence as adverse, stigmatizing events, leading to avoidance reactions and self-perception as abnormal, particularly when the examinations included groups of trainees. Some women also experienced as adverse the nonverbal and verbal reactions of individual physicians who were unfamiliar with CGA. Conclusions Genital examinations constitute salient events for children and adolescents with CGA. They are easily experienced as strongly stigmatizing, especially when combined with teaching.
- ambiguous genitalia
- congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- disorders of sex development