Do Intersex Men Have Periods?

I’ve been asked to comment on some of the claims made by Jessica Yaniv in their recent British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal hearing (there’s some background to the case here for those not familiar with it), as well as other comments they have made in the past pertaining to being intersex.

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first, Yaniv has said in the tribunal that intersex means people having “both genitalia”. This is a common misconception. I’ve written about ambiguous genitalia and what this means before (clue: it’s not both), so I’m not going to go into detail again here (edit: as Yaniv has made repeated claims about having “intersex genitalia in both the tribunal amd media interviews, I’ve written a more detailed blog about ambiguous genitalia. You can find it here). Suffice to say, if Yaniv has a penis, they do not also have a vagina. The claim I am going to explore in more detail is that Yaniv has periods.

To begin with, let’s remind ourselves what a period is. A period is part of the menstruation cycle, namely monthly bleeding caused by the shedding of the lining of the uterus and unfertilised ova. Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina. You can find a more detailed description here, should you need it.

I think it’s fair to assume, as we know that Yaniv cannot have “both sets of genitals” and that the cases are centred around the waxing of genitalia, that Yaniv has a penis. If they had a vulva (there has been a lot of talk of waxing vaginas – let’s be clear the vagina is internal, the vulva external), then I assume they would not be making up claims of both sets of genitals or evading answers about their own body parts.

So, the obvious question is; can a person with a penis menstruate?

The condition I’ve seen most used to back up this claim (Yaniv isn’t the first, to be fair), is Persistent Mullerian Duct Syndrome (PMDS). PMDS occurs when there is a mutation in the AMH gene. I’ve written a bit about the AMH gene before, but here’s a quick reminder – female reproductive organs develop from the Mullerian duct. In typical male development, the gene AMH causes this structure to break down. In cases of PMDS the gene does not activate, so a uterus and fallopian tubes develop alongside male reproductive organs – a penis and testes.

PMDS is rare, and a quick scan of the scientific literature reveals that men with PMDS run an increased risk of certain testicular tumours, which really puts to bed the suggestion that men with PMDS ovulate. We know, again from existing, extensive studies into DSDs and discussions around labels such as “hermaphrodite”, that there has never been a person who has both working ovaries and testes. I did find one example of a man with PMDS who was found to have some ovarian tissue, although it is clear from the paper that this was not functioning, and there is no suggestion that the patient reported any symptoms of menstruation. It’s also worth noting that the uterus in PMDS cases is often misplaced and severely underdeveloped.

There are other, rare DSDs, such as mixed gonadal dysgenesis (MGD), where a person with a penis can be born with a mixture of ovarian and testicular tissue and with internal female organs but with male genitalia (MGD can also present with female genitalia, although whether male or female, the genitalia is likely to appear ambiguous at birth). Again, these cases are not hermaphrodites. MGD can present with any mix of gonadal tissue. This can include ovotestes (gonads with a mix of testicular and ovarian tissue – these are non-functioning), streak gonads (where reproductive tissue is replaced with functionless, fibrous tissue) and sometimes either a single working testis or ovary. MGD is always apparent at birth, as it would also involve ambiguous genitalia. If the presence of a functional ovary were detected, this would lead to female sex being recorded. Similarly, a functional testis would lead to male sex being recorded. So, even in complex cases like this, we do not encounter men having periods.

I have come across two news stories about men menstruating and have seen people refer to these before, so I’m going to try to address these here too. Firstly, there is this case, in which a man with PMDS claims to have a complete reproductive system, including ovaries and a history of menstruation. As already stated, it would be impossible for anyone to have both working testes and ovaries, and the man clearly also states that he had a successful operation on an undescended testicle when he was a baby, so it seems likely he is confused about the ovaries. This seems to be related to him having experienced blood in his urine. It’s worth pointing out that blood in the urine is not uncommon with PMDS, in fact it is often what alerts adults with PMDS who have gone undiagnosed as babies to their condition. This is thought to be caused by hormone imbalances, not menstruation.

The second case is this one from China. This is much simpler to explain as the person in this case had been raised as male but was actually female with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), meaning their genitalia had appeared virilised at birth, and so they had been recorded as the incorrect sex. It’s worth noting that incorrect sex assignment is increasingly rare and even in this case did not result in an unambiguous male appearance in adulthood.

It’s probably worth, as a final note, mentioning that no other DSDs which result in an unambiguous male phenotype would involve the presence of any of the necessary organs for menstruation. XX males, males with Klinefelters, MAIS, PAIS, 5-ARD deficiency, etc, all have testes, although not necessarily fertile.

In summary, there is no DSD where someone with male genitalia menstruates. There are a number of complex conditions that can lead to a mix of internal organs. These often involve other health implications and can be traumatic and life changing for people to come to terms with upon diagnosis. They are not fun talking points by which other people can validate their gender identities by the spreading of misinformation. It does not help people with those conditions.

One thing that does strike me is that as long as intersex is being kicked around in cases involving gender identities, by people with no real knowledge of what it means, there should be an insistence that the evidence and claims cannot be used without an actual DSD expert to assess the validity of them first. It’s disappointing and frustrating to see trans activists being allowed to get away with this, and capitalise on their own and other’s ignorance, to advance a political movement that really has no interest in intersex matters or reality.

Update: since I wrote this blog, Yaniv has done a radio interview in which they clearly state they have a penis and testicles. Good work to Niall Boylan for cutting through the bullshit here and getting to the truth.

Join the conversation


  1. Thanks for this Claire. Following the case this claim from JY seems contentious, not least because when their mother was cross examined by them she made no mention of ambiguous genitalia.

    Are you any closer to returning to Twitter, and any wiser about why you’ve been suspended? You’re very much missed.

    Best wishes x

    1. I’m still in the process of trying to speak to an actual human being at Twitter. I’m not holding my breath at the moment, as they’re trying to claim I was running multiple accounts and it’s very hard to prove a negative. Will keep people posted if I hear anything though.

  2. Hi Clare, Thanks for this. Brilliant writing, clear and thoughtful as ever. You’re missed on Twitter. Can I DM you somehow with an email contact at Twitter UK?

  3. It seems like JY wants to piss off every community and make more enemies. By him claiming to be Intersex/DSD without any Genetic or Karyotype testing. He’s already pissed off Intersex/DSD people and he’s made enemies in the Intersex/DSD community.

  4. Thanks for this. I was wanting clarification after reading the transcript!

    Miss you on twitter!

  5. Hopefully the out of her depth Member hearing the case, Devyan Cousineau, reads this.

    The claim by JY that there are now multiple sets of genitals involved, alongside the conflicting evidence from the correspondence with the various beauticians means that there is a clear conflict of fact involved as to JY’s sex. This needs verified by a medical professional.

    The attempt by JY to make the claim then refuse to verify it, backed up by Cousineau, is completely unacceptable. The Tribunal can’t accept lies from people under oath. It needs the objective truth to come to a real decision.

    Of course there is also the huge problem Ms Cousineau has to overcome in relation to why this case was allowed to proceed when the British Columbia Human Rights Code clearly states that no discrimination can be alleged if this goes against the bounds of common decency. Ordering women to touch the penis & testicles of naked male strangers is way up there amongst the most indecent of demands.

    1. It’s such a mess. I agree though. If Yaniv is going to claim a medical diagnosis as a defence, this should be evidenced properly. I’m pretty sure it would be if they claimed to have any other medical condition. DSDs should be no different. This will do intersex people no favours.

          1. Text book MRA

            ‘ we need to see which rights are more substantive ‘

            A mans right to demand to be naked in front on women and force them to touch the genitals

            Or a woman’s rights to say no

            A direct consequence of embedding self ID in law. Women warned us

            No prepared to discuss on oath yet answers the same questions to a radio presenter and .uses intersex as the shield

          2. Yeah, he’s much more relaxed and so lets his guard down. I think it’s also clear that Niall Boylan isn’t going to buy it. It’s a shame none of the lawyers seem to have the question skills of Niall.

          3. Good grief. Yaniv is not a well person. I do actually think it’s shocking that trans activism takes advantage of that and makes people blind to it too. In the long run, it doesn’t help people like Yaniv either.

          4. Yes I agree. Ultimately he’s a victim in all this as well. He just doesn’t realize it. I think though that the havoc that he’s currently causing is enabled as much as taken advantage of. He really should have been arrested or given some support for his psychiatric issues and not given carte blanche to make a mockery of local democracy in Vancouver. But authorities seem hamstrung which is not normally in the power of a middle class boy from a middle class suburb.

          5. Totally agree. This helps no one and makes the law and the authorities look idiotic too. Everyone seems so afraid of offending people that they can’t see or acknowledge the obvious. I’d like to think that lessons will be learned from this but that really remains to be seem. In all of this nothing would surprise me.

  6. When I was reading @goinglikeelsie’s tweets about the Yaniv court case I was thinking, “Claire’s not going to like this!” 🙂

    Definitely much missed on Twitter but if you DO manage to get back, please don’t give up the blog.

    Your articles are so useful for sharing in other contexts and people who are not on Twitter shy away from Twitter links – possibly because they use Social Media apps on mobile devices and forget or don’t know that you can access Social Media sites using a bog standard web browser.

    I’m going to buy you a pint now – or whatever your tipple is 🙂

    Passers by – this is how to say “thank you” by deeds as well as words:

    1. I don’t know if they’ll be able to do that, but in FB conversation with the waxing ladies Yaniv clealry states male genitalia, so I don’t even know why they’re entertaining this ridiculousness now.

        1. Yeah, absolutely no mention of intersex there. In fact, the “high levels of testosterone” claim really sort of puts that to bed too. The only bonus about Yaniv is that they can’t seem to help themself. Can’t believe it’s being left up to people like Alex Jones to do the rigorous questioning lawyers and other journalists should be doing.

          1. Yes, it’s as if the political climate in Canada encourages these things, emboldens the litigants and scares the lawyers a little. Whilst in the background , Yaniv makes other claims, can get pregnant for one, and doesn’t deny male genitalia either, whilst at the tribibal is just allowed to say ‘ I’m intersex ‘ and that’s that. Also claimed Morgane Oger claimed intersex as well as a side note.

            What an incredible state of affairs for aa moder evolved society like Canada to end up in.

            Whatever definition you Google for Narcisstic Personality Disorder this case ticks all the boxes

          2. I still think that actual medical verification of a claimed intersex status should be required. It’s so frustrating. I’ve had discussions with Oger about intersex before (pre my banishment from Twitter). I think they’re an “intersex brains” believer, but I’ve never seen them claim to have an actual DSD. Nothing would surprise me though. Most trans activists try to play the intersex card at some point.

            On the point of narcissism, did you know there’s actually a thing called collective narcissism? The wiki article for it basically describes trans activism. It’s quite eye opening.

          3. Wow, early doors over a coffee, and much more reading required ( the is actually a collective narcissist website ) , every single word in the Wiki piece is transferrable to TRA movement. And inteestingly there is a leader/follower theory, and the instant I read that I thought of Arthur Chu.100% accurate when applied to him. Lots more to read will report back.

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