Frida Kahlo’s infertility explained

April 24, 2012

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who died in 1954 at age 47, created many paintings inspired by anatomy—particularly her own.

Having contracted polio at age 6 and, at 18, endured a horrific streetcar accident in which her body was pierced by a metal handrail, Kahlo’s life was marked by neurological problems, chronic pain and other ills, among them infertility. Now a physician has linked Kahlo’s infertility to that accident.


Mexican artist Frida Kahlo with her pet spider monkey Fulang Chang. (By Florence Arquin.) (Courtesy Artisphere)

Having reviewed Kahlo’s medical history and gleaned insights from her paintings, Antelo speculates that Kahlo’s inability to bear children was caused by a condition now known as Asherman syndrome. Antelo suggests that condition was brought on by the streetcar accident, in which several of Kahlo’s internal organs, including her uterus, were severely damaged. Kahlo experienced several miscarriages and underwent therapeutic abortions, which may, Antelo suggests, have stemmed from the uterine scarring resulting from her traumatic injury.

Asherman’s syndrome involves severe scarring of uterine tissue; thought to be a relatively rare condition, it’s most commonly associated with the uterus-clearing procedure known as “dilatation and curettage.”

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