Skip to Content
genetic disorder that affects males. Klinefelter
syndrome occurs when a boy is born with one or more extra X
chromosomes. Most males have one Y and one X
chromosome. Having extra X chromosomes can cause a male to have some physical
traits unusual for males.
Many men with an extra X chromosome are
not aware that they have it, and they lead normal lives. Klinefelter
syndrome occurs in about 1 out of 1,000 males.
The presence of
an extra X chromosome in males most often occurs when the genetic material in the egg splits unevenly. But it can also occur when the genetic material in the
sperm splits unevenly. Even though Klinefelter syndrome is a genetic disorder, it is not passed down through families. So, parents who have a child with Klinefelter syndrome are not any more likely than other couples to have another child with the condition.
Many men who have Klinefelter
syndrome do not have obvious symptoms. Others have sparse body hair, enlarged
breasts, and wide hips. In almost all men the testicles remain small. In some
men the penis does not reach adult size. Their voices may not be as deep. They
usually cannot father children. But they can have a normal sex life.
Some boys with Klinefelter syndrome have language and learning
See a picture of a
male with Klinefelter syndrome.
syndrome usually is not diagnosed until the time of
puberty. At this point, the boy's testicles fail to
grow normally and you may start to notice other symptoms.
out if your son has Klinefelter syndrome, your doctor will ask questions about
his past health, do a physical exam, and order a chromosome test called a
In adult men, lab tests in addition to a karyotype may be done, such as hormone tests or a
semen analysis, if Klinefelter syndrome is
If you are pregnant and at risk for having a child with Klinefelter syndrome, tests may be done. Klinefelter syndrome can be detected before birth (prenatally) through
genetic tests on cells collected from amniocentesis or
chorionic villus sampling (CVS). But this is not
Males with Klinefelter syndrome
can be given
testosterone, a hormone needed for sexual development.
If treatment is started around the age of puberty, it can help boys have more
normal body development.
Testosterone is given by injection or
through a skin patch or gel. The treatment usually continues
throughout a man's life but does not help
Speech therapy and educational support
can help boys who have language or learning problems.
If a man with Klinefelter wants to have children, he may be able to have his sperm collected through testicular sperm extraction (TEST). During TEST, sperm are obtained using a thin needle inserted into the testicle or through a small cut made in the testicle. Normal sperm are identified and then used for in vitro fertilization.
If your son has been
diagnosed with Klinefelter syndrome:
Learning about Klinefelter syndrome:
Other Works Consulted
Achermann JC, Hughes IA (2011). Disorders of Sex Development. In S Melmed et al., eds., Williams Textbook of Endocrinology, 12th ed., pp. 868–934. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Bojesen A, et al. (2003). Prenatal and postnatal prevalence of Klinefelter syndrome: A national registry study. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 88(2): 622–626.
Braunstein GD (2011). Testes. In DG Gardner, D Shoback, eds., Greenspan's Basic and Clinical Endocrinology, 9th ed., pp. 395–422. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
Saenz M et al. (2014). Genetics and dysmorphology. In WW Hay Jr, et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 1134–1170. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsSpecialist Medical ReviewerStephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
Current as ofMay 6, 2015
Current as of:
May 6, 2015
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
© Copyright 2016 Rush-Copley Medical Center • 2000 Ogden Avenue; Aurora, IL 60504
Main: 630-978-6200 • Physician Referral & Information: 630-978-6700 or 866-4COPLEY (866-426-7539)