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The extraordinary case of the Guevedoces

Catherine and his cousin Carla, Guevedoces in the Dominican Republic

Catherine and his cousin Carla, Guevedoces in the Dominican Republic

The discovery of a small community in the Dominican Republic, where some males are born looking like girls and only grow penises at puberty, has led to the development of a blockbuster drug that has helped millions of people, writes Michael Mosley.

Johnny lives in a small town in the Dominican Republic where he, and others like him, are known as “Guevedoces”, which effectively translates as “penis at twelve”.

We came across Johnny when we were filming for a new BBC Two series Countdown to Life, which looks at how we develop in the womb and how those changes, normal and abnormal, impact us later in life.

Like the other Guevedoces, Johnny was brought up as a girl because he had no visible testes or penis and what appeared to be a vagina. It is only when he approached puberty that his penis grew and testicles descended.

Johnny, once known as Felicita, remembers going to school in a little red dress, though he says he was never happy doing girl things.

“I never liked to dress as a girl and when they bought me toys for girls I never bothered playing with them – when I saw a group of boys I would stop to play ball with them.”

When he became obviously male he was taunted at school, and responded with his fists.

“They used to say I was a devil, nasty things, bad words and I had no choice but to fight them because they were crossing the line.”

We also filmed with Carla, who at the seven is on the brink of changing into Carlos. His mother has seen the change coming for quite a while.

“When she turned five I noticed that whenever she saw one of her male friends she wanted to fight with him. Her muscles and chest began growing. You could see she was going to be a boy. I love her however she is. Girl or boy, it makes no difference.”

Child on swing



So why does it happen? Well, one of the first people to study this unusual condition was Dr Julianne Imperato-McGinley, from Cornell Medical College in New York. In the 1970s she made her way to this remote part of the Dominican Republic, drawn by extraordinary reports of girls turning into boys.

When she got there she found the rumours were true. She did lots of studies on the Guevedoces (including what must have been rather painful biopsies of their testicles) before finally unravelling the mystery of what was going on.

When you are conceived you normally have a pair of X chromosomes if you are to become a girl and a set of XY chromosomes if you are destined to be male.

For the first weeks of life in womb you are neither, though in both sexes nipples start to grow.

Then, around eight weeks after conception, the sex hormones kick in. If you’re genetically male the Y chromosome instructs your gonads to become testicles and sends testosterone to a structure called the tubercle, where it is converted into a more potent hormone called dihydro-testosterone This in turn transforms the tubercle into a penis. If you’re female and you don’t make dihydro-testosterone then your tubercle becomes a clitoris.

Foetus at 12 weeks

When Imperato-McGinley investigated the Guevedoces she discovered the reason they don’t have male genitalia when they are born is because they are deficient in an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which normally converts testosterone into dihydro-testosterone.

This deficiency seems to be a genetic condition, quite common in this part of the Dominican Republic, but vanishingly rare elsewhere. So the boys, despite having an XY chromosome, appear female when they are born. At puberty, like other boys, they get a second surge of testosterone. This time the body does respond and they sprout muscles, testes and a penis.

Imperato-McGinley’s thorough medical investigations showed that in most cases their new, male equipment seems to work fine and that most Guevedoces live out their lives as men, though some go through an operation and remain female.

Another thing that Imperato-McGinley discovered, which would have profound implications for many men around the world, was that the Guevedoces tend to have small prostates.

This observation, made in 1974, was picked up by Roy Vagelos, head of research at the multinational pharmaceutical giant, Merck. He thought this was extremely interesting and set in progress research which led to the development of what has become a best-selling drug, finasteride, which blocks the action of 5-alpha-reductase, mimicking the lack of dihydro-testosterone seen in the Guevedoces.

My wife, who is a GP, routinely prescribes finasteride as it is an effective way to treat benign enlargement of the prostate, a real curse for many men as they get older. Finasteride is also used to treat male pattern baldness.

A final interesting observation that Imperato-McGinley made was that these boys, despite being brought up as girls, almost all showed strong heterosexual preferences. She concluded in her seminal paper that hormones in the womb matter more than rearing when it comes to your sexual orientation.

This is still a controversial topic and one I explore later in the film when I meet Mati, who decided from the earliest age that though “he” looked like a boy, Mati was really a girl.

As for Johnny, since he developed male genitalia he has had a number of short term girlfriends, but he is still looking for love. “I’d like to get married and have children, a partner who will stand by me through good and bad,” he sighs wistfully.

Complete Article HERE!

20 Interesting Facts You Never Knew

Everyone took a sexual education course in middle or high school to learn about the “birds and the bees.” However, there are a lot of facts that sex ed teachers leave out. These facts are sometimes the most interesting and the most useful in real-life situations. Here are 20 little known facts about “doing it.”

Patterns In Sexual Desire

Most women have an increase in sexual desire around the time that they ovulate each month. This is nature’s way of making sure the Earth stays well-populated.

It Sounds Gross But…

Semen can be great for the facial pores and can even help with acne. The male-produced “facial cream” can also prevent wrinkles.


A Headache Is A Bad Excuse

We’ve all heard the cliche “my head hurts” excuse for turning down sex. However, sex often helps with pain, especially with headaches.

We’re Not Judging

Many straight men enjoy having their anal areas stimulated, and that is totally okay! Sexual experts say that the anal areas are packed full of nerves and can make a male orgasm so much better.

1, 2, 3…And They Keep Coming!

Women can orgasm an unlimited amount of times. Men generally need a period of time after orgasming to recover. However, women need barely any time and are ready to go as many times as they please.

Men Are Erect…A Lot

It is said that many men experience about 11 erections every single day. While they may not be raging every single time, it does happen pretty often.

Celery Can Arouse

Yes, celery. The pheromones in celery can cause arousal in men. In addition to the arousal, the vegetable also makes men who eat it more attractive to women.

The Left Side Is The Best Side

A group of scientists found the upper left quadrant of the clitoral head is the most pleasurable spot to touch. So, it’s okay to tell him to go “a little to the left.” It’ll be sure to make the sex even more enjoyable.

Orgasms Are Different

A man’s orgasm lasts about 22 seconds while a woman’s lasts about 18. It is also very common for it to be uncomfortable to pee after having sex because of an antidiuretic hormone that prevents urine from freely flowing.

Sex Can IMPROVE With Age

Sexual attraction is a life-long drive. The reason most older people don’t have sex very often is that there is a lack of opportunity to have sexual encounters.

Get Your Heart Going

Sex is a great way of getting in your daily cardio exercise. During an orgasm, heart rates can reach between 140 and 180 bpm.


Lube Can Make A Difference

While lube is considered a sex tool for older people, many sexual experts say that a little lubricate can make the difference between pain and pleasure during sex. This doesn’t mean the woman is not turned on. Natural “lube” can come and go without any warning.

Penetration Is NOT The Secret

Most women do not orgasm from penetration alone. The majority of women need some type of clitoral stimulation to reach their climax. It has nothing to do with size or penetration.

Everything Expands

The penis is not the only thing that grows during a sexual encounter. In fact, the testes grow by 50% and the vagina can double in size when aroused.

More Sex Makes You More Appealing

After having sex, a woman’s estrogen levels double. When estrogen levels are higher, a woman’s hair can look shinier and her skin can even feel softer.

Not Only People Can Be Arousing

Some people have sexual attraction to objects instead of specific people. There is a woman known to be sexually aroused by the Eiffel Tower.

Have Sex, Live Longer

Scientists have found that orgasms can actually prolong your life. That’s right, the more sex you have, the longer you can live.

Humans & Dolphins Alike

As far as sex is considered, dolphins and humans have one key fact in common. The two mammals are the only animals in the world that have sex for pleasure.

Sex Everyday Keeps The Doctor Away

Sex can actually help you stay healthy. Many doctors believe this is because sex can lower blood pressure and greatly decrease stress levels.

It’s Like Two Puzzle Pieces

Not every penis, or vagina, is the same. If a guy is too large, women can control penetration by changing positions. If he is too small, there are many toys, etc that couples can invest in.


One Of The Willie Worrisome

Name: lup92
Gender: Male
Age: 15
Location: England
I’m 15 and masturbate often but have had no form of sex although my girlfriend wants to start. However my penis and scrotum have extremely small lumps all over. I also have a purple red large lump on the rim of my bellend. What do I do? Should I start? Or do I risk giving something to my girlfriend?

A quick note before we begin. I’m a Ph.D. kind of doctor. not MD type of doctor. You know that, right? While I know my way around the human body, I never offer medical advice of any sort. And, just so you know, no self-respecting physician, MD kind of doctor, is gonna offer you medical advice online either without seeing you in person first. Which, if you ask me, is a real good thing.

teen intimacy

Here’s the thing about lumps and bumps and discolorations of the skin anywhere on your body, especially on your precious willie, pup. They are signs that all is not well. Do us all a big favor and have your johnson looked at by a physician. Your health is nothing to fool around with. Everything you describe could be completely harmless, but you don’t want to take the chance that it isn’t, right? And here’s a tip: don’t do it for your girlfriend. DO IT FOR YOU! It’s your dick, you gotta lean how to take care of it. And there’s no time like the present to start properly lookin’ after it.

willy_worryJust so you know, I’m not suggesting that your have a STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). I mean, how could you? You’ve only been wanking, right? Still, if you’re concerned enough to write to me about it, you should take yourself in for a look-see. Since you are underage, you’ll probably need one of your parents to arrange the appointment. But if you are typical teenager, you’ll probably be embarrassed to discuss this with your parents. Still, there’s no getting around this. I think your parents will be proud of you for being proactive about your health and wellbeing. Besides, there’s nothing to be ashamed about.

Another option is to contact a sex-positive resource near you. Check out the folks at FPA. Surely they’ll have a resource for you.

Please take care of this ASAP.

There is one more thing. And I’m gonna be as blunt as I know how. If you think you’re old enough to fuck, you’re old enough to know all about condoms and how to use them. If ya don’t, you’re just a dumb kid who may function like a grown-up, but doesn’t know how to behave like one. And I don’t want to believe that about you.

What it is with young people (old people too) who are still fuckin’ clueless about unprotected sex in this day and age? I have nothing against younger people being sexual. That pretty much is to be expected. But I am totally opposed to kids having kids! Like I said, if you’re old enough to swing it around, you’re old enough to know how to swing it responsibly.

Good luck

It Just Don’t Look Right

Name: Manson.
Age: 21
I was born with hypospadias and I was operated three times during my life. The last operation was when I was 16. Now, I am 21. My problem is that my penis is only 11 cm or 4.3 inches! I am middle-eastern. I am worried about my penis size, since I have heard it won’t grow longer after the ages of 21-25. What is the best method of penis enlargement that you can suggest in my case?
Thank you

First, a quick review of what is hypospadias is for those unfamiliar with the term. It’s an abnormality of the urethra in some men. It involves an unusual placed urinary meatus (piss slit). Instead of opening being at the tip of the glans (or dickhead), a hypospadic urethra opens anywhere on a (raphe) line running from the tip of the dude’s cock along the underside of the shaft to where the base.

hypospadic 2This happens when a guy’s dick does not fully develop in the womb.

This condition has levels of severity, from the hardly noticeable to very obvious. Some children are born intersexed, and have ambiguous genitalia, which requires sexual reassignment surgery. But I’ll save that discussion for another time.

Some guys, particularly those with conspicuous hypospadias can develop a complex about their appearance. This in turn, impacts on their self-image and complicates their ability to form lasting sexual/partner/marriage relationships. Severe hypospadias can also interfere with procreation. Other men, perhaps those with less conspicuous or severe hypospadias show little to no concern for the appearance of their dick and live completely normal lives.

Some parents of children with mild hypospadias seek a surgical correction to the problem. I view this as a highly risky means to solve a less relatively innocuous cosmetic problem. There are men who were operated on as a child who now, as adults, resent the interference. Are you one such man, Manson? You say you’ve had three surgeries. As you may know, matters are often made worse rather than better through surgery. And of course, there’s always the risk of complications, infections and the like. There are, however, more serious cases of hypospadias that demand reconstruction. If your dick issue is causing you anxiety or low self-esteem, help is available. Check out: The Hypospadias and Epispadias Association.

On to the size of your cock. While your cock falls on the smaller end of the spectrum, it still is near the average. You might want to google — average penis size to get the lowdown on that.

It’s true what you suspect. Don’t count on your dick growing any larger than it is. And frankly, there are no effective methods for permanent enlargement. Here’s what I wrote to another young man (18yo) who wanted to grow his dick bigger…

Jeez, this is just about my least favorite topic of all. I keep promising myself that I won’t respond to anymore “how do I grow my dick bigger?” questions. And then along comes a young pup, like you John, and asks the question again. Here’s a tip, everything I have to say about cock enlargement schemes I’ve already said. If you want to know my thoughts about this wearisome topic look for the CATEGORIES pull down menu in the sidebar to your right. Under the main heading Body Issues you will find a subcategory Cock Size. Once you read through all columns and listen to the podcasts you will have all the information you seek.huge pen..

But since you’re a youngster I will respond kindly. First, you’re not even completely through puberty yet, John. So if you could just chill out for a couple more years till your growing spurt is complete, you might find that nature itself will resolve your issue for you. If, by chance, you find that by your 18th birthday your cock is no bigger than it currently is, then it’s time to make your peace with your piece. Because basically that’s the dick you’re gonna have to work with for the rest of your life.

In other words, you have about as much chance of growing a bigger dick than what your genetics has determined for you as you do growing your feet bigger or adding inches to your height or changing the color of your skin. It’s simply not gonna happen. There is no true way of safely increasing either the width or the length of your johnson short of a surgical intervention. And I never recommend that.

Just like there are ways to give the illusion of bigger feet, darker or lighter skin or being taller than you really are, there are things you can do to create the illusion that you’re growin’ yourself a bigger dick. But all the creams, the jelqing, the pumps, the weights, the what-have-you, will only have a short-term effect if they have any effect at all. In the end you will have spent a whole lot of money, wasted a lot of time, been consumed with a great deal of anxiety and possibly even injured yourself to wind up having what you’ve always had and not significantly more.

May I suggest that you practice accepting what genetics has determined for you in terms of cock size and everything else. Because that will give you more time and energy to learn how to use what you have to its greatest benefit. Luckily, our capacity to be a good, and even great, lover has nothing to do with the size of our cock. Anyone who tries to tell you different is pullin’ your leg.

I hope this is helpful.

Good luck

Boys Will Be Boyz

Name: TJ
Gender: Male
Age: 41
Location: ma
ever since i was a teen i have had the hots for my dad. i would walk into the bathroom on him, or his room to seesmoking him naked and to see his dick. i use to love catching him jack off. i loved to see him in his boxers, and would jack off in his boxers. i even would play with him when he was a sleep get him hard and jack myself off. i thought i was over this till he stayed with me over the weekend. he came out of the bathroom in just his boxers. i was only wearing my boxers also. i became hard and excited. the old thought of playing with his cock came back. that night i went into the guest room took out his penis from his boxers and played with it. till it was erect. i then took a pair of his boxers and jacked off in them. i am 41 now should i have out grown this attraction to my dad?? he knows i am gay, we have talked several times about my playing with him but should this attraction continue?? — lost and confused in dads boxers

This is precious, TJ. You’ve been fondlin’ and jerkin’ off your old man for decades, albeit while he “sleeps.” (He’s one hell of a deep sleeper, huh?) He knows all about you, your attraction to him and your late night play sessions with his cock and underwear. But he still comes for a visit. And predictably, you set upon him again in his sleep. How may more incredible things could you possibly add to a single paragraph?

And all you want to know is, is it odd that you continue to behave like this with your father and continue to have this attraction to him now that you’re 41 years old. AMAZING! Odd? Yeah, I’ll say it’s odd!

Where to begin? Oh skip it! If you and your dad (now somewhere in his late 60’s or even 70’s) are still playing at this little game it must be pretty harmless by this time.

Your behavior and attraction continue because you feed it, darling. No big mystery there.

Name: Alan
Gender: Male
Age: 41
Location: Victoria
I find it takes me for ever to jack off even watching videos it can take 40 minutes an when I do shoot it is only a small amount.

nipplesYou don’t say, Alan! I’ve never heard that question before. No wait, that’s baloney. I’ve heard and written extensively about this very issue.

Look to your right. See the CATEGORY pull down menu in the sidebar? EXCELLENT! Now search for the terms: “Ejaculate” and “Ejaculation Concerns” and “Cum.”  Between these categories you will find the answers you are looking for.

Here’s a tip: you’ll also want to check out what I’ve had to say about “Kegels.” You’re gonna want to know all about these handy-dandy exercises to tone up your PC muscle. Both men and women need to attend to their PC muscle. Not sure what the fuck I’m talking about. Not to worry. You have some fun reading and listening ahead of you.

Good luck

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