Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Go FSCK yourself!

The trouble is... for some people intersexed in peculiar ways... although no actual intercourse is involved... yes, it's possible for them to make themselves pregnant. Involuntarily.

I know of no case where a foetus has been successfully carried to term. I know of several cases where teratomae have been found. I know of one case where, in the course of genital reconstruction surgery, a partially-reabsorbed foetus was found.

But in theory, yes, it's possible.

From "Autoreproduction in Hermaphrodites by Joseph D.Schulman and Richard J.Sherins Hum Reprod. 1995 Mar;10(3):500-1.:
True hermaphroditism is a relatively rare 'experiment of
nature' in which, by definition, both ovarian and testicular
tissue are present in the same individual, and sometimes in
the same gonad. There have been several extensive surveys
of the diverse experience with human true hermaphrodites,
including a review of 283 cases published since 1980 by
Krob et al. (1994). The surveys and individual case reports
document wide variability in phenotypic expression and karyo-
type patterns. However, it is clear that many hermaphrodites
have oocytes and relatively normal uterine anatomy, about half
menstruate, and there have been at least 22 pregnancies
reported in 11 such individuals (Verp et al., 1992; Krob et al.,
1994). The external genital phenotype has been normal female
in many of these cases, although some females display variable
degrees of clitoral hypertrophy (Krob et al., 1994).
Regardless of the genetic cause of a particular case of
hermaphroditism, meiosis in such individuals would be
expected to produce a wide variety of genetically different
gametes; hence any offspring resulting from autoreplication
either of a mosaic or a chimaera through gamete formation
and gamete fusion would be a genetically distinct as well as
potentially normal child.
Thus, it can be speculated that autoreplication by certain
human hermaphrodites is not biologically impossible. In prin-
ciple, ICSI could be applied to facilitate spermatozoa—egg
fusion in those cases where only spermatids or small numbers
of spermatozoa are available on gonadal biopsy; in the very
rare hermaphrodites in which oocytes and spermatozoa produc-
tion are abundant, standard IVF could be employed.

If it is indeed true that in some hermaphrodites autoreproduc-
tion could be possible with medical intervention, another
question may be asked: 'Is it possible that such autoreproduc-
tion could, with the greatest rarity, occur without such an
intervention?' Indications exist in the mythology of various
cultures which mention hermaphroditic reproduction, and there
are references to virgin births in the historical documents of
several different societies.
Should such a baby come to term, there are certain theological aspects that would arise. At least though, the same glitches that cause such an unusual physiology also cause enough genetic variation during meiosis that the baby won't be, for want of a better term, the product of incest. Some people have bodies composed of very variable cell-lines. Some people, really nice ones, people I know who are good and kind, really are entitled to say "I am legion". It is perhaps fortunate that none have taken up a life of crime, the DNA evidence would give a forensic scientist a nervous breakdown.

From a biological viewpoint, a scientific one, this is all very interesting. But we're dealing with human beings here. People. People who are in fact more usual and common than my own rare situation. Compared with them, it is I who am the "lusus naturae", the freak of nature. While I can and do shrug about that myself (always knew I was an... individual... and rather like the idea), I can't help but feel some empathy for such people. And perhaps, just possibly, such children.

My thanks once more to Professor Italiano for bringing this piece of data to my attention.

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