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Hermaphrodites

Article Index

  1. Hermaphrodites
  2. Mythic androgyn

An hermaphrodite is a specimen that possess the features of both sex. True hermaphroditism in humans differs from pseudohermaphroditism in which the person has both X and Y chromosomes (not to be confused with the normal XY chromosome of males), having both testicular and ovarian tissue, and having ambiguous-looking external genitalia. Humans with typical reproductive organs but atypical clitoris/penis are called pseudohermaphrodites in medical literature. Pseudohermaphroditism also refers to a human possessing both the clitoris and testicles.

One possible pathophysiologic explanation of this rare phenomenon is a parthenogentic division of a haploid ovum into two haploid ova. Upon fertilization of the two ova by two sperm cells (one carrying an X and the other carrying a Y chromosome), the two fertilized ova are then fused together resulting in a person having dual genitalial, gonadal and genetic sex.

People with intersex conditions sometimes choose to live exclusively as one sex or the other, using clothing, social cues, genital surgery, and hormone replacement therapy to blend into the sex they identify with more closely. Some people who are intersex, such as some of those with androgen insensitivity syndrome, outwardly appear completely female or male already, without realizing they are intersex. Other kinds of intersex conditions are identified immediately at birth because those with the condition have a sexual organ larger than a clitoris and smaller than a penis. 

 

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