Natural Sciences


The term hermaphrodite comes from the Greek word hermaphrodites, which is strongly influenced by “Aphrodite”, the goddess of love.

What is it to be a hermaphrodite?

The word is used to define those organisms that have both sexes , both female and male.

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During the growth of the embryo, at a certain stage of pregnancy, all the organs and hormones develop to determine what sex the organism will have. Each stage of pregnancy gives rise to a new element that determines the sexual gender of the new being.

However, like any natural process, its complexity does not escape being altered. At some stage of gestation, an effect could be generated that incurs in the production of two different external sexual organs , this is known as hermaphroditism.

Types of hermaphrodite

There are two types of hermaphroditism that can exist between living things:

  • Simultaneous : the organism has two different sexes throughout its fertile life.
  • Sequential : the organism can change sex during its fertile life. In this type, if the organism passes from male to female it is known as protandric , if it is the other way around it is called protogynous .
  • Pseudohermaphrodite : are those individuals who have internal (reproductive) organs of one sex but their external appearance is that of the other sex.

Unlike human hermaphrodites and those of other species, most of the latter do produce sex cells of both sexes. That is why some parasites such as tapeworms can self-fertilize, but other organisms need others to procreate, or require pollination , in the case of flowers.

In nature, hermaphroditism occurs strategically: some living beings, depending on their environment, find it difficult to find a mate to reproduce, although, it should be noted that very few species can self-fertilize.


Hermaphroditism does not occur in people as in animals, that is, both fully functional sexual organs, but an “intersex” that can be represented by the internal development of organs of one sex and an external reproductive system of the other sex.

Some female-looking individuals may have male internal organs and have a clitoral enlargement or micropenis. Some boys do not have a drop in the testicles, which could be ovaries.

There are several types of intersex :

46, XX Intersex: the person is born with female chromosomes and ovaries, but his external reproductive organ is the male. An individual with these conditions, we could say, is predestined to be a woman in every sense, but the excessive secretion of male hormones causes the genitalia of a man to grow in his body.

46, XY Intersex: the person is born with male chromosomes but female genitalia . Both in this type of hermaphrodism and in the previous one, it can be the case that the genitals are rather imprecise, but they tend to resemble the opposite gender of their internal reproductive system. The testicles, from the internal point of view, can present problems in this type of hermaphrodites.

True gonadal intersex or true hermaphroditism: occurs when a person has both ovarian and testicular tissues. This formation is known as an ovotesticle . This case is possible in both the XX and XY chromosomal pairs.

People with this condition also cannot present eggs and sperm at the same time, or at least so far there has not been a public case.

Examples of hermaphrodite

  • Slugs
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Leeches
  • Earthworms
  • Scallops
  • Scallops
  • Snails
  • Sea dancers
  • Limpets
  • Flat worms
  • Ofiuras
  • Trematodes
  • Sea sponges
  • Corals
  • Anemones
  • Fresh water hydras
  • Amoebas
  • Frogs
  • Fish: clown fish, cleaner lordo, salmon, among others.
  • flowers
  • I had
  • Starfish
  • Some humans

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