Can You Absorb DNA Through Sex? We Fact-Checked the "Too Hot to Handle" Womb Workshop
Netflix's "Too to Handle" is a reality-TV show that centers learning and growth. Seriously. The sexy, horny singles that arrive on the island are put through various tests designed to promote healing from past relationship wounds in order to build lasting connections.
In an effort to teach contestants how to create deeper relationships and promote new ways to express sexual energy, workshops are held throughout the retreat: from painting with their bodies to learning to trust through rope-play. In season four, the women were asked to dig deep and "tap into inner wisdom" — through their womb.
"The womb is far beyond somewhere that just births babies," Matilda Carroll, embodiment and intimacy mentor, who led the women-only workshop, said in episode eight. "It's also an emotional center. It's like a big sponge. Women tap into this energy and it informs the decisions they make in their lives." Carroll specializes in helping women tap into their emotions through tantra and shamanic medicine, and breathwork. "The womb absorbs a lot of energy," Carroll continued. "It also is a place where our intuition and our wisdom is also."
The workshop was presented from a shamanic medicine perspective, but when Carroll mentioned DNA it brought up concerns of misinformation. "If the person that you're having sex with has trauma or guilt or shame then you're actually absorbing that as well," Carroll explained to the confused-looking group. "You actually absorb men's DNA into your yonis, which can actually stay in your body for up to 50 years." (Hold up? Like how swallowed gum stays in your stomach for seven years?) If that sounds too wild to be true, you're not alone. One contestant, Dom, reacted just like the rest of us, asking "Why?" Another member of the workshop, Kayla responded, "What? This is insane."
Besides the obvious issue of gendering the womb, the idea of women literally being "tarnished" by the different men they have sex with is a stigma that has been falsely circulated for many years. In a viral Facebook post in 2017, a study referencing microchimerism was used to conclude that "if you have sex with a man, his DNA lives in you forever." The text of the post went on to say, "There is now a greater understanding of why God asks us not to have sex before we get married." Microchimerism is defined as "the presence of cells from one individual in another genetically distinct individual," per the Journal of Oral Maxillofacial Pathology. However, this DNA is typically transferred from one individual to another during pregnancy or through blood transfusion and organ transplants.
While sexual intercourse is listed as a possible lineage for microchimeric cells. There is NOT enough research to prove that a sexual partner's DNA is transmitted to a person's womb via sex. "There's absolutely no evidence to the claim that it's absorbed from semen-producing sex partners," Erin Stevens, MD, OBGYN at Clinic Sofia, tells POPSUGAR. "Though - to quote Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park - 'life, uh, finds a way' and sperm can survive in the gynecologic sexual tract for up to 5 days, they die after that, disintegrate, and are flushed from the body rather than making their way to the brain to take over."
So while the idea that men's DNA can store itself in a womb for up to 50 years has been officially debunked, we don't disagree with Carrol's general motive: to get the contestants in touch with their inner selves. Thankfully the "Too Hot to Handle" workshop went on to take a more therapeutic approach. "Take a deep breath in and allow yourself into the womb-space," Carroll says while everybody's eyes are closed. "Ask yourself, 'What are the patterns that keep showing up for me in my relationships?'"
These types of prompts were actually helpful for the contestants. Through "opening up my womb" Imogen realized she didn't take others feelings into account. Dom was able to come to terms with being made to feel like she was "too much." Jawahir, who was torn between staying with the man she was falling in love with or running to the next shiny, new boy toy that arrived on the island, also had a breakthrough: "I abandon men before they can abandon me because I feel like I don't deserve love."
The workshop ended with the official "clearing of the womb," which included getting rid of all of the negative energy and letting out a big roar. "Now that their wombs are cleared, they have a better chance of bringing in healthy relationships that are gonna flourish," Carroll said. Dom giggled in her post-workshop interview, "All boys from my past, get out of here! Serving you your eviction notice right now." You go, Dom!