A simple case of miraculous conception


Never bring your uterus to a knife fight. I think that's how the old adage goes, or perhaps, how it should go.

NCBI ROFL reports on the strange story of a woman with no vagina, who nevertheless managed to end up "with child", apparently thanks to giving a blow job, followed by receiving a stab wound. Trust me, you'll want to read the full summary. The case report is real and comes from a 1988 issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Image courtesy Flickr user 3Neus, via CC


    1. Good article — note the identical wording “exactly 278 days later”. I bet this is an ob/gyn in-joke: 278 days is the average length of a pregnancy, yet babies never seem to be born at 278 days exactly.

      To the credulous, read the snopes link before you draw any conclusions.

      @eian #1,
      Apparently he already mentioned the Civil War story from the snopes link.

  1. My father used to be a gynaecologist. I have heard him talk about work maybe 2-3 times in his whole life, to either visiting colleague or friend, but one of the times I do remember was when he mentioned having read about a case very similar to this – it would have been around ’92/’93, I think. So, apparently the article was at least published in a peer-reviewed journal and read the world over :-)

    BTW – Commenting anonymously, since I’m OK with revealing my own identity, but not if that compromises the privacy of my father.

  2. The entry attributes the article to an entry in the “Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology:. Just for clarification, this article was from the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, not the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology or some other OBGYN journal.


    Best regards,

    David C. Jones, MD
    Director, Fetal Diagnostic Center
    Associate Professor of OBGYN

    University of Vermont
    Department of OBGYN
    Division of Maternal–Fetal Medicine

  3. I read this in Weekly World News several years ago. From time to time I mention it in conversation. Nobody ever believes me, because, Weekly World News, right?

    But now it’s been published in Boing Boing — my days of being disbelieved are over!

  4. I have to suspect that the original article was intended as a joke, and was not real. Each of the key events is highly improbable on its own; so the odds against all of these rare events happening at the same time has to be astronomical.

    (1) Girl has no vagina — quite rare. (2) Girl gets into knife fight and gets stabbed in the abdomen immediately after performing oral sex (and, presumably, swallowing) — fairly uncommon. (3) As a result of the stabbing, some of the semen that she has swallowed migrates from her digestive tract into her uterus — highly improbable. (4) At least some of the spermatozoa manages to survive its trip through the (normaly acid-filled) digestive tract, and is able to fertilize an egg — preposterous. (5) Oh, by the way, this was the first egg the girl’s body ever produced, since she had never had a period before — come on!

    The probability of all of these extremely rare events occurring at the same time must be a gazillion to one against. Yes, the article suggests that her saliva may have buffered the spermatozoa against stomach acid, or that her body may not have produced much acid because of malnutrition. But these suggestions seem to be nothing more than post hoc attempts to rationalize something that seems absurd on its face. I’m not saying that it COULDN’T have happened. I’m just saying that it sounds so preposterous that I find it very hard to believe based solely on the testimony of a single article in a medical journal.

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” – Carl Sagan

    1. Assigning probabilities to events is useful if you are predicting something that has not yet happened. It is irrelevant to assign probabilities for an event that has happened. For example, you might try to predict which particular people in Haiti would have died after an earthquake, and the way that each would die, and the probabilities of being correct would be infinitesimal. This doesn’t mean that the event didn’t happen.

      Reliable evidence as to the veracity of this conception story may be required in order for you to believe that it actually happened, but pointing out how unlikely it would be to happen is not evidence for it being incorrect.

      1. @apoxia: Assigning probabilities is perfectly legitimate whenever you are dealing with uncertainty. Yes, if I had proof that this really happened, the probabilities would be irrelevant. But I don’t have proof. I only have the word of the people who wrote this article. I have to decide whether or not to believe them. Therefore, I’m dealing with uncertainty. Therefore, the probabilities are relevant.

        It’s no different in principle than dismissing anecdotal claims of alien abduction on the grounds that the stories are so improbable.

    2. Well, not to mention the fact that she was in denial of the pregnancy until she was ready to give birth (which makes for a great story). Granted, she had good reason (inability to have intercourse, etc., etc.) and there are numerous cases of women being ignorant of pregnancies, but it’s just such an amazing sequence of events. She never believed she was pregnant, nor did she seek any medical help for her abdominal pain — despite the fact she had suffered a serious stabbing earlier. Did she not think perhaps a small wound had reopened, or that she was getting an infection? Her parents didn’t think maybe she should see a doctor?

      I’m not familiar with academic reports, but I personally thought the wording in the report seemed uneven. Considering the extraordinary event, surely among the rarest in medical history, I’m surprised there are no more sources for it. Academic journals are not impervious to hoaxes.

  5. There are some insects that mate this way.

    The females have a vestigial vagina and the males inseminate by penetrating the abdominal wall.

  6. This is the subject of some of my favorite death metal songs:
    Stabwound & Intestinal Incubation

    Seriously this article is not genuine IMO.

  7. Hmmm. . . I’d like to see them tackle this one on MythBusters. Or maybe a MythBusters Special “Adult” Edition.

    1. That case report is a treasure trove of wonderous gems.

      The patient was well aware of the fact that she had no vagina

      The young mother, her family, and the likely father adapted themselves rapidly to the new situation and some cattle changed hands to prove there were no hard feelings

      By [the time he was 2.5 years old] the son looked very much like the legal father… The fact that the son resembled the father excludes an even more miraculous conception.

  8. There is a precedent for this story in a story that snuck into actual journals after first being published as an obvious joke, then being cited again as a true story by those using usually peer reviewed and truthful journals as a reality source; which is not that uncommon for urban legends.


  9. …That picture screams for the camera hogging squirrel to pop up and peek over that woman’s belly :-)

    1. People are quite regularly born without the standard options. Various muscles, bones and even organs may be missing.

    2. Forgive my ignorance, but how is it possible to not have a vagina?

      ..well, the most common related-syndrome, is being born male.

  10. I keep reading the title of the report as “oral contraception”. I know I can’t be the only one.

  11. I’d be all for believing this, if I hadn’t heard it repeated randomly through-out the years – news reports, stupid variety infotainment shows and the newspapers! oh the newspapers love this one

    Some crediting the 1988 Journal article, others talking as though it was a recent event.

  12. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” – Carl Sagan

    Nope. Extraordinary claims require the same ordinary evidence anything else does, if we’re relying on evidence and not testimony. We don’t discriminate based on subjective opinions about what is “extraordinary”. To do so would be to place subjectivity above science.

    It was a nice catch-phrase though, even if it didn’t make sense.

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