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Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), complete (CAIS), partial (PAIS), mild(MAIS)


What is Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome?

CLICK HERE for an in-depth overview of AIS from the AISSG
CLICK HERE for the complete Wikipedia page on AIS

Having AIS means that the body is unable to process (insensitive to) male hormones (called androgens).

AIS is a genetic condition that is caused by a recessive gene which is passed from a mother to a child. AIS or the body's inability to process androgens or male hormones (like testosterone,) affects every person differently that has this recessive gene.
Therefore it operates on a spectrum: some people with AIS are relatively responsive to androgens and have a MILD form; others whom are less responsive to the hormones have a PARTIAL form, while others are COMPLETELY unable to use the androgens.
AIS is not completely uncommon. Estimates put children born with a form of AIS between 1 in every 20,000 babies
with XY chromosomes. There may be even greater numbers since these numbers only reflect medically reported and recognized cases.
These numbers probably do not take into account men that are very minimally affected with a mild form or MAIS, who might not even know that they have it. They may develop as completely 'normal' male or may have only slight issues with virilization.

A mother that is a carrier of the recessive gene for AIS is generally not affected by the gene, but may pass the gene to her children that are genetically XY. She may also have
children with XX chromosomes and some might also be carriers of the recessive gene.
In each of her pregnancies there is a 1 in 4 chance she could have a:
'Normal' XY boy, or
AIS
XY baby, or
'Normal' XX girl, or
Carrier
XX girl
During the fetal stage of development, the body forms basic gonads that either distend and become testicles or remain within the body and become ovaries. A fetus with the recessive gene that causes AIS cannot respond to their own chromosomes properly resulting in the range of this intersexual condition, based on the individual's level of sensitivity to androgens.
Sometimes with partial AIS or PAIS it can lead to ambiguous genitalia or complications with some genital formations. Some of these individuals are diagnosed earlier in life, while others may not be and may also develop pubic and axillary hair or might possibly have an enlarged clitoris. Children with PAIS or with CAIS may also be born with bi-lateral hernias as babies.
When a child is born with complete AIS or CAIS, the baby will probably outwardly appear as a completely 'normal' female. She will typically be raised as a woman and may have internal 'gonads' that produce testosterone, which the brain alters to estrogen for her. Since male hormones are responsible for sexual virilization or facial, pubic and underarm hair, a person with CAIS may have little, if any.
Some of these women do not even find out about having AIS until in their late teens or after puberty when the diagnosis is established because of a lack of menses or a period.

A person with CAIS (although XY) is destined to look female as they cannot take male hormones to change the body's appearance or thus have a 'sexual reassignment' to look male (since the body can't process them). Studies have shown that most women with CAIS (although they technically have XY chromosomes) would not typically choose to be male and are not typically confused about their gender role. Gender identity and genetics are not always one in the same; one's chromosomes do not define "WHO" they are.
Many ("XY") women with forms of AIS have a "blind" ended vagina that can range from very shallow to 3/4 the size of a 'normal' XX woman; and vaginal sexual intercourse is possible for many others with dilation or surgical lengthening, should that be their choice.
Many intersexual XY women with AIS have their internal 'gonads' removed due to an increased cancer risk. Women with CAIS do not have ovaries, fallopian tubes or a uterus and therefore cannot bear children. Many women with AIS take Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT to replace the estrogen that is lost from removing the gonads.
Having AIS does NOT necessarily imply being inclined to identify one's self specifically with either gender, as this may also occur on a spectrum of feeling more linked to one gender rather than another, or neither, depending on the individual. Having AIS does not imply being homosexual, or having any specific sexual preference. It may not necessarily lead to having gender dysmorphia or the feeling of being "trapped" in the wrong gender. Individuals with intersex conditions might not necessarily consider sexually reassigning themselves (as transsexuals do) or desire to change appearance to become androgynous, or to "gender bend" like transvestites do.
There is debate in both the medical and intersex communities about when is the right time to (if ever) remove the internal gonads or in the cases of PAIS when there is ambiguous genitalia, when to assign a gender.
According the the US-AIS Support Group AISSG- "Based on conservative estimates of frequency, approximately 8000 women in the US and Canada have a DSD (Disorder of Sex Development) identified as Partial or Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome"
Some former terms for AIS have included:
Testicular Feminization Syndrome (Testicular Feminisation Syndrome) or (TFS), Feminizing Testes Syndrome (Feminising Testes Syndrome), and Male Pseudo-hermaphroditism, - all of which are no longer preferred terms since they are inaccurate and stigmatizing.

Some synonymous terms for AIS have included:
Androgen Resistance Syndrome, Morris's Syndrome (CAIS), Goldberg-Maxwell Syndrome, Reifenstein Syndrome (PAIS), Gilbert-Dreyfus Syndrome (PAIS), Rosewater Syndrome (PAIS), Lubs Syndrome (PAIS)
Karyotype=46,XY
Women with a 46,XX karyotype that have the gene for AIS in their family may not have any symptoms/notable physical effects but can possibly be a carrier for the recessive gene.

Other biological conditions that can lead to intersexuality -
XY conditions other than AIS:
5 alpha-reductase deficiency, 17-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency, XY or pure gonadal dysgenesis (Swyer Syndrome), Leydig cell hypoplasia, ovo-testes, Mixed gonadal dysgenesis, embryonic testicular regression syndrome, persistent müllerian duct syndrome, Denys-Drash Syndrome, Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome,
XX conditions other than AIS:
Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome, Mullerian dysgenesis, vaginal atresia.
More conditions that CAN lead to intersex conditions include but are not limited to:
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (there are different forms), Klinefelter's Syndrome-XXY, XYY Syndrome, XXYY Syndrome, Turner Syndrome-X, Triple X Syndrome, XXXX Syndrome, XXXXX Syndrome, and sometimes Mosaicism and Chimerism

Hermaphrodite VS. Intersex- the preferred and MORE ACCURATE terminology

AND NOW...ON TO THE BLOG POSTS:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just dropped in to see what condition my condition is in...

There is a recent novel released on 2008, by author Jennifer Haigh titled: The Condition: a novel, which features a central theme and a character with the intersex condition called Turner's Syndrome. Please read and feel free to discuss or comment below, also support this effort in spotlighting another experience within the human condition.

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