Conjoined twins are extremely rare, making up only a minuscule percentage of the population. However, questions about them abound.
Many wonder how conjoined twins perform basic daily tasks while attached to another person.
How do conjoined twins walk? The answer to this question isn’t straightforward. How conjoined twins walk depends on how they are joined. While most are thoraco-omphalopagus, meaning they are attached at the thorax and abdomen, there are at least eight other types of conjoined twins.
While most conjoined twins are stillborn, the ones who do live have to find ways to make life work while attached.
How they function is determined by various factors that each set faces.
How Conjoined Twins Walk Depends on How They Are Joined
Not all conjoined twins are connected at the same place. How they walk depends on how they are attached. They may also use their arms to help them move.
Thoracopagus twins share a diaphragm, a sternum, and an abdominal wall. They are face to face. Thoracopagus is one of the most common types of conjoined twins.
Each twin controls one half of the body, so walking is a coordinated effort. Though facing each other can make it complicated, thoracopagus twins find a way to work together to move.
Over 80 percent of omphalopagus twins share a liver, and these twins also face each other. This is considered the least complicated way for conjoined twins to be attached, though they may share a colon.
Again, each omphalopagus twin controls one side of the body and figures out how to walk. Though both may have different movement styles, they can read each other to move in rhythm when needed.
Pygopagus conjoined twins face away from each other and are joined at the buttocks. They usually have separate spinal cords. These twins can share an anus or bladder.
Facing away from each other can make walking more complicated, but it’s still possible. Communication is key to know when it’s time to move.
Though craniopagus twins share a skull, they often have separate brains. Craniopagus twins are extremely rare. They can also walk by coordinating their movements.
Ischiopagus twins are attached at the pelvis and may have four legs. However, it’s likely that two of the legs will fuse to create one limb. It’s also likely that ischiopagus twins will share a colon.
Having four legs might sound like walking would be easier, but the two limbs in the middle will likely create one limb that is harder to maneuver. In this case, both twins will have to work to control the middle leg when they want to walk.
Common Questions About Conjoined Twins
People have questions about conjoined twins because they are so rare that they are still shrouded in mystery.
Even their everyday activities are scrutinized since most people in the world will never experience what they do.
How Do Conjoined Twins Use the Bathroom?
If conjoined twins share genitals, then they go to the bathroom together when they need to go. If they have separate genitals, one will have to squat or lean over while the other one uses the restroom.
It’s also possible for conjoined twins to use bedpans or have a bathroom specially built to accommodate their needs.
How Do Conjoined Twins Eat?
Most conjoined twins eat normally. Conjoined twins who share a stomach will have to decide how much to eat since they will only have one stomach to fill.
If there is an issue with the gastrointestinal system in the twins, feeding tubes or other forms of feeding may be necessary.
Can Conjoined Twins Get Pregnant?
Depending on how they are connected, it might be possible for female conjoined twins to get pregnant. However, it’s not likely a pregnancy would make it to term safely.
There’s also the matter of consent. If conjoined twins share genitals, both would need to consent before sexual activity was an option. If they don’t share genitals, it’s possible for each to consent on their own.
Can Conjoined Twins Be Different Genders?
Conjoined twins are a type of identical twins. They cannot be different genders because they come from the same fertilized egg that didn’t split all the way.
Do Conjoined Twins Both Control the Body?
In some cases, one twin controls one half of the body while the other controls the other half. Though they can each do things with their half, it’s also possible for them to work in coordination with each other.
Can Conjoined Twins Be Separated?
Some conjoined twins can be separated, but it’s not an option for every set. Twins who share vital organs may not be able to be separated and have both survive.
Parents sometimes decide whether to have their twins separated when they are children. Others may leave that choice to the conjoined twins when they are older.
However, there are risks with surgery depending on what organs are being shared.
What Happens if One Conjoined Twin Commits a Crime?
It’s difficult to punish one conjoined twin for committing a crime when the other is innocent. It can also be nearly impossible to determine which twin committed the crime in these cases.
Historical records show that most conjoined twins were not convicted of crimes they committed because of the circumstances.
Do Conjoined Twins Die at the Same Time?
Every situation is different, but it is likely that once one conjoined twin dies, the other will follow quickly. Conjoined twins share body systems that make it more likely that the death of one will cause a sepsis infection in the other.
Doctors can try to remove the living twin from the twin who has died before infection sets in, but it’s not always possible.
Conjoined twins are extremely rare, and we are still learning more about them. How they deal with everyday life depends on where they are connected and how many organs they share.
Kristy is the mother of four, including identical twins. With a background in education and research, she is constantly learning more about parenting and raising multiples. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking into the woods with a great book to take a break.