Oral Sex, a Knife Fight and Then Sperm Still Impregnated Girl

The Lengths Sperm Can Travel

Schlegel pointed out that although fertilization typically takes place in the fallopian tubes, doctors know that sperm can normally swim up and out of the reproductive organs into the abdominal cavity.

"The sperm are naturally there at times, and eggs are naturally there," said Schlegel. "Eggs are released from the ovary, and they sort of dance around before they get taken up by the fallopian tube."

Sperm Can Swim Far in the Female Body

So it seems, Schlegel concluded, that the sperm could also be taken up by the fallopian tube, as could a fertilized egg.

But some doctors are still suspicious of, or at least bewildered by the tale. The girl's birth defect is well known and by age 15, doctors say most girls would have been doubling over in pain with an abdomen filled with menstrual fluid that cannot escape.

The menstrual fluid of several periods would make it even more unlikely for a pregnancy to occur.

"She'd have pain all the time and would have a stomach full of blood all the time, and would have to be operated on, or she would eventually die," said Dr. Sherman J. Silber, director of the infertility center of Saint Louis at St. Luke's Hospital in Missouri.

Dr. Howard A. Zacur, a reproductive endocrinologist at Johns Hopkins, also had doubts. "The case report here suffers from the fact that an individual with a completely obstructed vaginal outlet would have been expected to have blood accumulation in the vagina, and/or uterus," he wrote in an e-mail.

The authors of the report guessed a pregnancy could only be possible if the girl had ovulated once or at most twice before her pregnancy.

Whatever the true story of the woman, and her now grown son, Silber said it could send a message to ordinary couples planning pregnancy.

Why Doubt the Longevity of Sperm?

"This story is a crazy story, and there's no way to make sense of it," said Silber. "But the data on sperm is that normally it's quite good in an alkaline environment for two or three days -- that's why the average couple wastes a lot of energy when they're trying to get pregnant."

Silber said he sees many couples who buy into the idea that they should time sex to coincide with the woman's ovulation. But Silber said the remarkable survivability of sperm means most couples don't have to change their normal sex lives at all.

"The average American married couple tends to have sex two or three days a week," said Silber, author of "How to Get Pregnant."

If sperm can survive for two or three days, that means the average sex life of an American married couple results in living sperm swimming around the woman's body every single day of the week.

"The practice to check when you ovulate and not to have sex until you're ovulating is stupid," Silber said.

Silber said because ovulation calendars and methods to detect ovulation are somewhat inaccurate, couples could miss ovulation and have sex too late.

"Twelve hours after ovulation, the eggs aren't good any more. You want to have the sperm there ready and waiting for when you ovulated," said Silber. "It's absolutely true that sperm can last a long time."

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