Ernest Rumley Dawson.

The causation of sex in man; a new theory of sex based on clinical materials together with chapters on forecasting or predicting the sex of the unborn child and on the determination or production of either sex at will online

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Online LibraryErnest Rumley DawsonThe causation of sex in man; a new theory of sex based on clinical materials together with chapters on forecasting or predicting the sex of the unborn child and on the determination or production of either sex at will → online text (page 10 of 18)
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high up on the posterior uterine wall, near the orifice of one of the
Fallopian tubes."

From manual examination of the interior of the uterus
just after the birth of the child, Dr. Tuckey 2 was able

1 Borland, " Modern Obstetrics," 2nd ed. 1901, p. 46.

2 " Medical Press and Circular."


on several occasions to find the placenta attached chiefly
to the left side of the uterine mid-line when the child was
a female, and to the right side of the mid-line of the cavity
when the child was a boy; from this he too came to the
conclusion that boys were derived from the right ovary
and girls from the left, but he did not dissociate the father
from any share in sex causation.

It is evident, from this lateral position of the placental
site, that the child usually develops more to one side of the
uterus than the other; and from this R. von Braun 1 has
derived the earliest evidence of pregnancy a furrow form-
ing and dividing the uterus into two different-shaped lateral
halves, the pregnant and the non-pregnant.

" Its presence he attributes to changes in consistence and the
alteration between contraction and relaxation of the portion of the
organ in which the ovum is situated."

The pregnant side of the uterus being thicker in an antero-
posterior direction.

It is thus somewhat akin to the pregnant and non-pregnant
cornu of a bifid uterus.

The male ovum having entered the right lateral half of
the uterus chiefly develops on that side, while the female
similarly develops more on the left of the uterus; hence it
comes to pass that the sex of the child a woman is carrying,
in some cases influences the posture in which she sleeps,
for if a woman being pregnant with a girl lies on her left
side she has no pain because the relations of the foetus and
the placenta are not disturbed ; if she turn over on the other
side, however, the child falls downwards to the lower level
of the right side and thus leads to dragging on the placenta
situated to the left side, and the pain soon makes her turn
again to the painless side. It is to be remembered that by
the time the placenta is formed, the child floats in the
liquor Amnii and is capable of considerable movement in

Similarly, if pregnant with a boy, turning on her left side
gives pain because the child, falling downwards towards the
lower left side, drags by its umbilical cord upon its placental

1 Quoted by W. Williams, op. cit., p. 162.


site on the right side of the uterus ; if however she lie on her
right side, the side corresponding to the sex of the child, no
pain is complained of, for the child and the placenta are

The following cases will support this:
Mrs. H. R. B., when pregnant with her girl, noticed she
could only sleep on her left side i.e. she could lie on her
right side for a short time, but could not get off to sleep if
lying on the right side.

Now (April 1902) she is again pregnant, she can only sleep
on her right side, and she finds her position for comfortably
sleeping is exactly opposite to what it was during her last

From this one fact alone I foretold she would have a boy.
A boy was safely born in June 1902.

Mrs. O. S. had 7 boys and i girl. She noticed that
movement in bed gave her far more pain on the left side,
when carrying the girl, than on her right side. She could
not lie on the right side when pregnant with the girl in
fact, she said " She could not sleep at all on the right side
when carrying the girl." She found lying on the left side
eased the left-sided pain. She always slept and lay on her
right side when pregnant with the males, and noticing the
difference in the decubitus made her think she was not
going to have a boy, when, unknown to her, she was pregnant
with a girl.

Mrs. D. B. had 5 girls followed by 3 boys. She could
only lie on her left side (for any length of time) when she
was pregnant with a girl. During her last three pregnancies
she found it was uncomfortable to lie on her left side in
fact she could not do so for long.

After the first boy was born, when she was again pregnant,
she felt sure, and correctly foretold on two occasions, that
she was again to have a boy, owing to her inability to lie
on her left side in those last two pregnancies.

She could only lie on her right side for long when she
1 ' carried ' ' the boys.

The next case is not quite so conclusive.
Mrs. C. S. had 4 girls followed by 2 boys. When pregnant
with the two boys she could only sleep on her right side.


When pregnant with the girls she could sleep in any

We thus see that the sex of the child has, in some few
cases at least, a determining influence on the position in
which the pregnant woman can most comfortably lie.

Of course if the placenta be attached to the mid-line of
either the anterior or posterior wall of the uterus the patient
does not experience these definite unilateral pains when
lying down.



THERE is no fixed or stereotyped composition in the human
family, and the proportion of the sexes to be born to any
one couple is an uncertainty, while the different families
which different parents have, or rather used to have, present
an infinite variety.

This uncertainty has given rise to endless heartburnings
and suspense.

The statistics of present-day families, however, are quite
useless for the study of the proportion of different-sexed
children born to each married couple; hence we have to
look backwards to the days of our grandparents, to the
olden days of earlier marriages, and prior to what may be
called " the artificial prevention of pregnancy era." Then
the marriage of two healthy individuals naturally led to
large families, with the children of different sexes ; and many
and diverse were the designs in pins, etc., expressive of
welcome to the " little stranger." These are now rarely
seen, though suspense as to the sex of the coming infant
still precedes its birth.

The following may be looked upon as cases of natural
families ; they are examples of well- assorted ovarian activity.

Mrs. R. had her children thus: i, B 1 ; 2, 3, 4, 5, G 1 ;
6, B; 7, 8, twin G; 9, 10, n, 12, 13, 14, 15, B; 16, 17,
B and G twins.

Mrs. K. had i, 2, 3, 4, 5, B; 6, 7, G; 8, B; 9, G; 10, B; n,
12, twin B; 13, 14, B.

1 B = boy, G = girl. The figures denote the order of birth, and show
the number in the family.



Mrs. W. : i, B; 2, G; 3, B; 4, 5, G; 6, 7, 8, B; 9, 10, G; n,
B; 12, 13, G.

Mrs. P. B.: i, G; 2, B; 3, G; 4, B; 5, G; 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, n,
B; 12, G; 13, 14, B; 15, G.

Mrs. B. R. : i, G; 2, B; 3, 4, G; 5, 6, B; 7, 8, G; 9, B; 10,
n, 12, G; 13, B.

Mrs. L. V.: i, 2, twin B; 3, B; 4, G; 5, B; 6, 7, 8, G; 9,
10, n, B; 12, 13, G; 14, B.

Mrs. G. : i, 2, 3, B; 4, G; 5, 6, B; 7, 8, 9, 10, n, G; 12,
13, 14, B.

Mrs. G. L. P.: i, 2, 3, 4, G; 5, 6, B; 7, 8, G; 9, B; 10, G;
n, B; 12, G.

Mrs. O. : i, G; 2, 3, B; 4, G; 5, 6, 7, B; 8, 9, G; 10, B.

In the following cases of families with numerous children,
the different sexes came quite alternately:

Mrs. S. B. T.: i, 3, 5, 7, 9, n, 13, 15, girls;
2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, boys.
Mrs. W. : i, 3, 5, 7, girls; 2, 4, 6, 8, boys.
Mrs. R. : i, 3, 5, 7, 9, boys; 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, girls.
Mrs. A. P. S. : i, 3, 5, 7, 9, girls; 2, 4, 6, 8, boys.
Mrs. T. S. : i, 3, 5, 7, 9, boys; 2, 4, 6, 8, girls.
Mrs. N. : i, 3, 5, 7, 9, n and 12, boys; 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, girls.
Mrs. L. : i, 3, 6, 7, 9 and 10, boys; 2, 4, 5, 8, n, girls.
Mrs. H. C. : i, 3, 5, 7, boys; 2, 4, 6, girls.
Mrs. C. B. : i, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9 (twin), girls; 2, 4, 6, boys.
Mrs. D. : i, 4, 6, 8, 10, boys; 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, n, girls.

These cases of women giving birth to children of different
sex alternately give some support to the contention of the
alternate action of the ovaries; certainly they are proof of
the activity of both ovaries. They manifestly quite dis-
prove such theories of sex as the relative age of parents, or
relative vigour of the parents. For we can hardly expect
relative vigour to alternate, say, every second year;
while for the relative age to alternately vary is of course

That in the healthy state both ovaries are active, and
that both normally ovulate regularly, is borne out by the


occurrence in families of an equal number of children of
each sex, irrespective of the order of their birth. Thus,
from many of my patients and friends the following cases
will support this statement:

Mrs. K. H. B. had 8 boys and 8 girls.
Mrs. B. G. 8 8
Mrs. P. 7 7 ,,

Mrs. L. K. 7 7
Mrs. B. D. R. 6 6

Mrs. F. K., Mrs. G. S., Mrs. C., Mrs. P. G. G., Mrs. C. G.,
Mrs. A., Mrs. R., Mrs. K. V., and Mrs. M. all had ten children,
five of each sex.

These cases go to prove that the two ovaries settle the
sex, and that each sex is equally likely to occur with the
slight preponderance of males (106 to 100) due to the
slightly larger right ovary.

These cases also should disprove such theories of sex
causation as relative age and vigour of parents, as neither
age nor vigour can be supposed to change about so
as to allow an equal number of children of both sexes to
be born.

I have the names and particulars of many other families
of eight children, four of each sex, and of six and four show-
ing sexes equally divided ; but I have only included the more
numerous families, to show it was no coincidence.

If, instead of both ovaries being active, only one ovary
is active, the other being functionless or absent that is,
Unilateral Sterility we get all the children borne by that
woman of the same sex, because ova of only one side, and
therefore one sex, are provided.

UNILATERAL STERILITY. There are several reasons to
account for the inactivity of one ovary, or Unilateral
Sterility, as I have elsewhere called it.

The CHIEF CAUSE of this sterility of an ovary is an in-
flammatory one. Very frequently after a confinement some
inflammatory mischief sets in round about the uterus, or
round one or other Fallopian tube or ovary, and leads
either to the tube being obliterated or bound down, or the


ovary being thus affected. This may occur after the first
or any subsequent confinement.

Indeed, Drs. Hart and Barbour 1 say :

" It is the rare exception to examine a parous female pelvis with-
out finding some traces of a previous cellulitis or peritonitis ";

and on p. 155 (prognosis as to sterility after pelvic peri-
tonitis) :

" The mechanical closure by pressure of the Fallopian tube, and
ovaritis, rendering ovulation impossible, are conditions often pro-

ANOTHER CAUSE would be cases of severe appendicitis


FIG. 19. DIAGRAM OF RIGHT SALPINGITIS. (Modified from Martin.)

The right tube is both thickened and closed from inflammation and adherent to the right ovary,
leading to right-sided sterility, so that future children would be females.

leading to inflammatory binding down of the right tube and
ovary (cf. Dr. T. G.'s case, p. 175).

ANOTHER CAUSE of Unilateral Sterility is a rudimentary
or undeveloped condition of one ovary, as in the following

A. W., aged 32, died in Westminster Hospital of cancer of
the breast. P.M. " The uterus was large and subinvoluted,
the right ovary was rudimentary." It was a case of un-
developed ovary.

Such cases lead to all children being of the same sex.

OTHER CAUSES of unilateral inactivity of an ovary are
shrivelling, atrophy, or cirrhosis of the ovary, the proper
ovulating tissue of the ovary being destroyed.

1 Hart and Barbour, op. cit. t p. 159.


H. Reeves, 1 F.R.C.S. Ed., described a case of cirrhotic
right ovary in a woman the subject of left ovarian pregnancy.
The foetus developed in and from the left ovary, and was
a girl.

ANOTHER CAUSE of Unilateral Sterility is advanced dis-
ease in one ovary sufficient to prevent ovulation.

Dr. Spencer 2 described a case of large dermoid tumour of
the right ovary: the woman became pregnant and gave
birth to a girl, because, owing to the diseased condition of
the right ovary, the left ovary must have provided the

Dr. Galabin 3 showed tumours of both ovaries removed
at the fourth month of pregnancy:

" The right tumour was a dermoid cyst containing gruel-like fluid,
which solidified on cooling. It contained also hair, loose teeth,
and bone."

" The left tumour was an ordinary cystic adenoma, except that
three small cysts in it were evidently dermoid. In the left tumour
was seen a large corpus luieum of pregnancy, and near it a small
fragment oj unaltered ovary " definite proof that this left ovary
supplied the oosperm.

Unfortunately the sex of the child when ultimately born
was not given ; but I feel confident it was a girl.

Milander described a case where the left ovary was calci-
fied and detached, and was lying free in the pelvis. It is
evident that that ovary could not ovulate.

CONGENITAL ABSENCE of one ovary must, of course,
result in Unilateral Sterility, or the production of one sexed
children only. Such cases are rare, but of course give
absolute proof that one ovary produces only one sex.

A very remarkable case is described by Sir J. Bland-
Sutton. 4 " A woman, aged 33, had given birth to a boy,
when, because of a painful swelling behind the uterus,
abdominal section was performed:

" The uterus was found to be of the unicorn variety, and to possess
one Fallopian tube and a well-developed ovary on the right side. The

1 H. Reeves, " Lancet," Oct. 1890, p. 872.

2 H. R. Spencer, " Trans. Obstet. Soc.," 1898, pp. 16-18.

3 Galabin, " Trans. Obstet. Soc.," 1896, p. 101.

4 Bland-Sutton, " Surgery of Pregnancy and Labour complicated with
Tumours." " Lancet " Reprint, vol. i. p. 50, 1901.


left side of the uterus was smooth and rounded, and lacked a broad
ligament, ovary, and Fallopian tube.

" The right kidney occupied its proper position; the left one lay
in the hollow of the sacrum, and proved to be the body behind the
uterus. The patient made an uninterrupted recovery. About
fourteen months afterwards the patient conceived, and had the
satisfaction of being delivered of a fine child, a boy."

No case could be more conclusive. 1 The patient had
given birth to a son before an operation disclosed the fact
that her left kidney was congenitally misplaced further,
that not only was the uterus undeveloped and defective
on the left side, but that her left Fallopian tube and left
ovary were entirely absent. After the operation she became
pregnant, and gave. birth to another boy.

Thus there were two sons born to a woman who possessed
only the right ovary in her body.

This unilateral sterility is of course also caused by uni-
lateral ovariotomy, or the complete removal of an ovary
and tube from one side by operation. The post-operative
children in these cases (compare Chapter X.) are all of the
same sex, because one ovary only breeds one sex.


I have in Chapter VII. alluded to the fact that many
females have all the same sex offspring even with different
husbands, or in the case of animals with multiple male
animals, showing that the question of sex rests only with
the mother ; but in the ordinary married state of one husband
to one wife it is very remarkable, to say the least, how often
that couple will only give birth to children of one sex. It
points to the fact that only one ovary is active.

The following are cases in point, selected from families
where the mother has finished childbearing. Only those
having six or more children are given, less than that number
hardly being conclusive:

1 A reviewer objects to this case being called a conclusive proof in
favour of my theory. Had he found a case, recorded by as reliable an
authority as Sir J. Bland-Sutton, of absent left ovary, with the birth of
two girls from ova from the right ovary, he would, no doubt, have written
of it as a conclusive proof of the fallacy of my theory.




G. M. had 18 boys


E. F. S.

15 M


S. B.

,, II ,,

T. P.



S. H.

9 M





K. W.


H. S.



R. S. B.

8 ,,


T. V. M.



C. S.

7 ..


D. C.

M 7 M



,, 7 "


B. S.

,, 7


W. N. S.

,. 7 "


L. S. H.

7 M






6 /

Mrs. W. had 20 girls

No girls

H. B.

14 ,,

R. H.




T. L.

10 ,,

D. M.

10 ,,

B. L. G.


M. R.


C. B.


G. D.




L. C.







1 >.

W. H.


L. F.


W. S.

6 *

No boys

I have details of many other families of smaller numbers
not necessary to quote.

In cases of succession to title or fortune the extreme
importance of having a son and heir is evident ; some women,
however, are quite unable to provide a male ovum for
fertilisation, owing to Unilateral Sterility, however caused.

" A celebrated case, 1 which attracted great attention, occurred
in the family of Sir Francis Willoughby, who died seised of a large
inheritance. He left five daughters (one of whom was married to
Percival Willoughby), but not any son. His widow at the time of
his death stated that she was with child by him. This declaration
was evidently one of great moment to the daughters, since, if a son
should be born, all the five sisters would thereby lose the inheritance
which descended to them. Percival Willoughby prayed for a writ
de venire inspiciendo, to have the widow examined, and the Sheriff of
London was accordingly directed to have it done. He returned that
she was twenty weeks gone with child, and that within twenty weeks
fuit paritura. Whereupon another writ issued out of the Common
Pleas, commanding the Sheriff safely to keep her in such an house,
and that the door should be well guarded ; and that every day he
should cause her to be viewed by some of the women named in the
writ (wherein ten were named), and when she should be delivered,
that some of them should be with her to view her birth, whether it be
male or female, to the intent there should not be any falsity. And
upon this writ the Sheriff returned, that accordingly he had caused
her to be so kept, and that on such a date she was delivered of a

So she had in all six girls and no boy.

1 Montgomery, " Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy," 1837, p. 35.


I conclude these cases with the following two extracts
from newspapers, but cannot vouch for their accuracy, as
I can of the above-mentioned cases :

" Daily Mail," April 22, 1901:

" The recent census in Italy has revealed some extraordinary cases.
The wife of a Turin labourer, named Marie Danna, who married at
19, and is now 59, has had thirty-jour sons. Thirty-one are now
living, and are all at home with their parents."

" Daily Mail," March 5, 1897:

" An inhabitant of Arendskerke, in Holland, has notified to the
municipal registrar the birth of his twenty-first son, all the others
being alive and in the enjoyment of good health."

The above, then, are cases where the activity of one
ovary is lost, the first fertilised-ovum-supplying ovary being
the only one remaining active, and hence all the children
are of the same sex.

Another class of family is where the sex of the first
pregnancy differs from those that follow, thus :

Mrs. W. had first a boy, then

ii girls.
Mrs. B. B. had first a boy,

then 5 girls.
Mrs. S. M. H. had first a boy,

then 5 girls.
Mrs. H. M. had first a boy,

then 6 girls.
Mrs. V. B. had first a boy,

then 10 girls.
Mrs. N. had first a boy, then

8 girls.
Mrs. Y. had first a boy, then

7 girls.

Mrs. H. had first a boy, then

6 girls.
Mrs. M. B. had first a boy,

then 6 girls.
Mrs. D. had first a boy, then

8 girls.

Mrs. W. J. had first a girl,

then 12 boys.
Mrs. F. E. had first a girl,

then 1 6 boys.
Mrs. McC. had first a girlj

then 6 boys.
Mrs. B. P. had first a girl,

then 9 boys.
Mrs. P. L. had first a girl,

then 10 boys.
Mrs. L. S. had first a girl,

then 7 boys.
Mrs. W. M. had first a girl,

then 6 boys.
Mrs. C. H. B. had first a

girl, then n boys.
Mrs. R. E. B. had first a girl,

then 6 boys.



Here the ovary which supplied the ovum for the first
pregnancy became after that pregnancy functionally useless,
either from adhesions, or disease in it or its tube ; so that in
all the subsequent pregnancies the ova came from the other
uninjured ovary, and the children were all of the same sex,
and different from the first or primary pregnancy.

Here unilateral sterility after the first pregnancy is the

A further class of family consists of cases, like that of
the German Empress, where several boys are followed by
a girl; and likewise a number of girls followed by a boy,
such as

Mrs. P. B. had n children,

10 boys followed by i

Mrs. G. P. had 8 children,

7 boys followed by i

Mrs. S. had 8 children, 7

boys followed by i girl.
Mrs. C. had 7 children, 6

boys followed by i girl.
Mrs. C. A. had 6 children, 5

boys followed by i girl.

Mrs. R. J. had 9 children, 8

girls followed by i boy.
Mrs. H. had 8 children, 7

girls followed by i boy.
Mrs. R. had 12 children, n

girls followed by i boy.
Mrs. B. G. had 9 children, 8

girls followed by i boy.
Mrs. B. W. had 7 children, 6

girls followed by i boy.
Mrs. L. N. had 8 children, 7

girls followed by i boy.

Or again these

Mrs. H. G. P. and also Mrs. J. both had 5 children, and
both had 2 boys, then twin boys, and lastly a girl.

Mrs. H. had 8 children, 5 boys, then twin boys, and lastly
a girl.

Mrs. G. had 12 children, 9 girls, then twin girls, and lastly
a boy.

Mrs. B. C. S. had 22 children, 18 girls, then twin girls,
followed by a boy, and lastly another girl.

In these cases the binding down of the ovary and tube
which did not act must have been undone either by the
number of pregnancies, or by the lastone, so that the ovary
and tube were set free, as it were, once.TiDra, and at lastw^re


able to act, with a change of sex as a result. That this libera-
tion from adhesions is possible is stated by Hart and B arbour 1 :

" The adhesions (of Fallopian tubes) may ultimately yield to the
stretching brought to bear on them by the developing uterus."

That this does definitely occur is absolutely proved by
cases reported by Dr. Herman, 2 where he says :

" The ovary and tube, which were in 1886 so embedded in ad-
hesions that the operator could not identify them, were in 1901
almost free, and were easily pulled up."

And by the writer, 3 in the same journal, " the right append-
ages were so matted and bound down," they could not be
inspected in July 1901 ; while less than two years afterwards
no adhesions were met with, they had been absorbed, and
thus liberated the ovary and tube.

This undoing or absorption of adhesions is now copied
by surgeons who artificially release bound-down tubes, so
that " many pregnancies have occurred after simple freeing
of tubes from adhesion." (Mrs. S. Boyd.)

Frequent repetition of pregnancy that is, a woman
having several children rapidly; as well as cases of hydram-
nios (dropsy of the womb) ; and also cases of twins, which
lead to excessive distension of the uterus during pregnancy ;
would all, owing to the stretching caused by them, be most
likely to lead to absorption of adhesions round an ovary
or tube.

Note, therefore, the above cases of twins being followed
by a change in the sex of the succeeding child.

In some cases the presence of children all of the same
sex is doubtless due to mere chance, fertilisation happening
always to occur to the ova from one and the same ovary;
i.e. fortuitous fertilisation. Conception occurs to an ovurri
from the same ovary that supplied the ovum for the last
child born, hence the same sex child is again born ; whereas,
had conception occurred a month earlier or later, a different
sex child would have appeared.

1 Hart and Barbour, op. cit., p. 155.

2 Herman, " Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British
Empire," vol. ii. 1902, pp. 226-228.

3 E. Rumley Dawson, " Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology," vol.
iv., Sept. 1903, pp. 301-3.


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Online LibraryErnest Rumley DawsonThe causation of sex in man; a new theory of sex based on clinical materials together with chapters on forecasting or predicting the sex of the unborn child and on the determination or production of either sex at will → online text (page 10 of 18)