Well Nick, I’ve got to say, I was extremely skeptical on this one just from the sound of it (as was the editor here at TIFO). It’s got “urban legend” written all over it and we were all prepared to place this one in our “Myths and Misconceptions” category. That is, until upon researching it, I found a paper published in the very reputable British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, in 1988, titled: Oral conception. Impregnation via the proximal gastrointestinal tract in a patient with an aplastic distal vagina. Case report.
So it would appear that unless the author simply was writing up a very detailed practical joke, and then managed to somehow slip it by the editors of that esteemed journal, that it very well might be true. So when you were taught that a woman can’t get pregnant from engaging in oral sex… well, apparently it’s theoretically possible given the right set of circumstances. That is why a 15-year-old girl in the small African country of Lesotho who was born without a vagina and who had engaged only in fellatio with her boyfriend had doctors puzzled when she gave birth to a healthy son.
The young girl, whose name is not given in the case report, arrived at a local hospital with all the signs of a woman in labor. Upon examination, doctors found no vagina, only a shallow skin dimple. Regardless of how the baby was conceived, it was ready to emerge from the womb. With no birth canal, the baby’s only option of escape was Caesarian section. Doctors delivered a baby boy via C-section (weighing in at 2.8 kg / 6.17 lbs), and then set out to solve the mystery of his conception.
As they say in the case study, after performing the emergency C-section:
While closing the abdominal wall, curiosity could not be contained any longer and the patient was interviewed with the help of a sympathetic nursing sister. The whole story did not become completely clear during that day but, with some subsequent inquiries, the whole saga emerged.
The girl’s hospital records showed that only 278 days earlier (about 9 months), she had arrived at the hospital with knife wounds to her stomach. How’d she get them? I’ll just quote the case study, as they describe it perfectly:
The patient was well aware of the fact that she had no vagina and she had started oral experiments after disappointing attempts at conventional intercourse. Just before she was stabbed in the abdomen she had practiced fellatio with her new boyfriend and was caught in the act by her former lover. The fight with knives ensued. She had never had a period and there was no trace of lochia after the caesarean section. She had been worried about the increase in her abdominal size but could not believe she was pregnant although it had crossed her mind more often as her girth increased and as people around her suggested that she was pregnant. She did recall several episodes of lower abdominal pain during the previous year.
While performing surgery to repair the stab wounds, doctor’s found two holes that opened the girl’s stomach to her abdominal cavity. They also noted that the girl arrived at the hospital with an empty stomach, resulting in the absence of large amounts of stomach acid or any other food matter. Thus, it is thought, in the most unlikely of circumstances, that the sperm in the girl’s stomach gained access to the girl’s reproductive organs through her injured gastrointestinal tract. Even given this access, it is still a long way for the sperm to travel; so how is it theorized that they survive the journey?
Well, in the first place, her stomach was mostly empty of stomach acid and sperm is protected from non-favorable environments by a nourishing medium called ejaculate. This ejaculate would have helped protect the girl’s new lover’s sperm from the remaining stomach acid, among other hazards. The stabbing also seems to have happened almost immediately after the girl ingested the sperm, so it needn’t have survived in the stomach long. And don’t forget about the strength of numbers. Sperm don’t travel alone. Even if ninety percent of them don’t survive the beginning of the journey, you are still left with millions of the tiny little swimmers and you only need one.
Dr. Peter Schlegel, chairman of urology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, weighed in on the issue and pointed out that sperm can normally swim up and out of the reproductive cavity and into the abdominal cavity. “The sperm are naturally there at times, and eggs are naturally there,” he says. “Eggs are released from the ovary, and they sort of dance around before they get taken up by the fallopian tube.”
In fact, getting pregnant as the result of sperm originating in your abdomen is possible enough that in the 1980s, during the early days of fertility treatments, doctors performed a procedure called DIPI (direct intraperitoneal insemination) during which they injected sperm into the lower abdomen hoping that it would find its way to an egg.
What makes this perfect storm of circumstances even more amazing is that the doctors involved thought it likely that this was the girl’s “first or nearly first ovulation otherwise one would expect that inspissated blood in the uterus and salpinges would have made fertilization difficult.”
So, in the end, did it really happen? Well, we have a reputable journal where the case is well documented (and it wasn’t published on April 1st, rather in September of 1988). So we definitely have a young girl with no vagina having a baby. So aside from immaculate conception (which is ruled out as the baby apparently resembled the likely father somewhat, according to the case study), the theory listed in the study seems plausible enough. And it certainly is theoretically possible, as pointed out by many doctors (see the references below). So I’m going to go with “yes”, on this one, even though the fact that it sounds ultra-urban legened-ish, still has me feeling hesitant to hit “Publish”. ;-) But, I guess, similar strange things have happened, such as the somewhat disturbing instance of a 5 year old girl who gave birth to a healthy child. As you might expect, she holds the record for the youngest person to ever give birth.
If you’re wondering how it all turned out for the stabbed in the stomach girl, who given her impoverished circumstances likely would have not been able to ever have a child of her own without these bizarre set of circumstances, they note the aftermath in the case study too:
The young mother, her family, and the likely father adapted themselves rapidly to the new situation and some cattle changed hands to prove that there were no hard feelings.
All’s well that ends well.
If you liked this article, you might enjoy:
- The Record for the Most Babies Born to One Woman is 69
- The Man Who Had the Hiccups for 68 Years
- The Curious Practice of Execution by Golden Shower
- The Bizarre Tale of Phineas Gage
- 10 Bizarre World Records
- The world’s youngest surviving premature baby is James Elgin Gil, born May 20, 1987 in Ottawa, Canada. He was born at 21 weeks and 5 days gestation (pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks) and weighed 1 pound 1 ounce. As far as I could find, he’s still alive today and quite a healthy individual.
- The world’s smallest surviving baby is Amillia Sonja Taylor of Florida, USA. She was born at 21 weeks and 6 days gestation but weighed only 10 ounces!
- The world’s oldest mother is Rajo Devi. In 2008 and at 70 years of age, Rajo became the oldest woman to give birth. After unsuccessfully trying to conceive during her 50 year marriage, and going through menopause in her 50s, one would think that giving birth would be impossible. Not so. Rajo entered a fertility program at an in-vitro clinic and with a donor egg fertilized with her 72-year-old husband’s sperm, Rajo gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Expand for References
- Oral conception. Impregnation via the proximal gastrointestinal tract in a patient with an aplastic distal vagina. Case report. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, September 1988 Vol 95, pp. 933-934
- Teen Girl Pregnant from Oral Sex
- Abdominal Cavity
- Artificial Insemination
- One Miraculous Conception