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A new diagnosis for Frida Kahlo's infertility
Date:4/22/2012

he uterine cavity and represents the manifestation of Asherman's syndrome," Antelo said. Asherman's syndrome can cause menstrual abnormalities, including painful cycles, infertility or miscarriage.

Other causes for Asherman's syndrome include pelvic surgeries, such as Cesarean sections and the removal of fibroid tumors from the uterus, use of intrauterine devices, pelvic irradiation, schistosomiasis and genital tuberculosis.

The diagnosis

If you search the scientific literature database maintained by the National Library of Medicine, known as PubMed, you will find only 16 studies about Kahlo. The first was published in 1989 35 years after her death at the age of 47. While these papers directly discuss her orthopedic, neurological and chronic-pain issues, none of the papers investigate the basis of her infertility, Antelo emphasizes

Kahlo's history of uterine trauma and subsequent obstetric record supports a diagnosis of Asherman's syndrome, Antelo said. "Specifically, the penetration of the streetcar handrail through Kahlo's adolescent body caused trauma to the uterus critically injuring the endometrial lining and resulting in significant scar formation within the uterine cavity. The scar formation in her uterine cavity is theorized to have played a role in the continual miscarriages and pregnancy failures that Kahlo experienced," he said.

Kahlo experienced numerous miscarriages and at least three therapeutic abortions. Her paintings contain various images of reproduction and fertility from scientifically accurate depictions of reproductive organs to poignant portrayals of the birthing experience. Antelo points to one 1932 painting, "Henry Ford Hospital," in which Kahlo illustrates her hemorrhaging body lying on a hospital bed with various objects, including a male fetus and a model of the female pelvic bones, attached to her body by umbilical tethers.

Asherman's syndrome today

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Contact: Angela Hopp
media@faseb.org
619-525-6213
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Source:Eurekalert

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