So, if you haven't looked at my previous question: Would a sentient species be able to thrive when mating means the death of the male partner? Please do, as the information in it directly pertains to this one.

In the last question I got a lot of answers and comments talking about the growth of such a species from initial population. There was a lot of focus on how there would need to be a consistent surplus of males on hand to replace those fallen. Additionally in many answers there was a trend towards female and male dichotomy as well as an almost guaranteed enslavement of the males. This was very interesting, but not where I had expected the question to go.

Originally, I was more interested in culture development (which was answered), but much further in the future after the species had been well established. I originally asked with the concept of an already stable population, rather than from the genesis in mind. The previous question has given me a lot of interesting things to think about and plan for if this would work, however, I still have a bit of curiosity.

So, preamble aside, this question asks: How would established culture likely react if this trait were to manifest spontaneously?

I would like to use the same rules outlined previously, but with a couple of addendums. Firstly, the restriction of only being able to impregnate one female is now loosened to be: "Males may impregnate many different females, but with each successive mating, the time they have to live is cut in half." This means that at a maximum of one day, one male can probably get to a max of 8-10 females, provided they're quick enough and have enough partners. (Keep in mind that their body is breaking down the whole time, so they might not have enough energy to sustain that long.)

Secondly, the age restriction of potential childbirth will change from 1/3 of the life span to 30 years. You can assume the average individual will live to 100 years of age.

It's also important to note that the gene only triggers its death knell during copulation. Other "activities" are safe. We will also give some people a fighting chance and say that the gene emerges randomly throughout the population at about 5% per week until it is active in all members, as unexpectedly dropping this on everyone at once would be pretty catastrophic and possibly unrecoverable.

Finally, though I didn't specify this species as humans, it was compared to them, which is fair. For simplicity's sake you may use modern human societies as a model. The reason I'm asking this one is that I feel an established culture is going to handle things far differently than one built from the ground up on these rules. An adopted view versus a born into, molded by it one, if you will.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What happens if the sex is with a condom, does the death knell still trigger? What about doing "other activities" into a jar and then using IVF for having babies? $\endgroup$
    – Cyrus
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 7:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Those won't trigger it, however one of the stipulations from the previous question is that it isn't possible to artificially inseminate. For human comparison you can think of the sperm as all becoming impotent if not at the moment of copulation. The answers so far have all mentioned it as a choice which really isn't possible in this scenario, haha. $\endgroup$
    – JGaines
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 13:18

3 Answers 3


I apologize, I didn't actually read the other question.

Society might develop so that artificial insemination would be the norm amongst couples.

Some spiders do this, but they give birth to large numbers helping to solve the problem of too few males. I think you kind of hinted on that point. It doesn't sound like you are interested in that.

It certainly would create some interesting situations with those that were first to be stricken with the 'illness.'

I'm curious what mechanism causes this? If it's the woman, would a condom not work? If it's the man, then "other activities" would not be safe.

I'd say if the species is human, no, they wouldn't thrive, but might barely survive. If it is some alien sentient race, I think they definitely might cope using any of the techniques already provided.

I hope this helps.

  • $\begingroup$ Artificial insemination is unfortunately not possible. I couldn't say what would lead directly to these circumstances (as biology is not my field), but right now I'm envisioning when both are in the act it triggers a special chemical in both. For the female it allows her to become fertile, for the male it allows him to be potent. The problem is it triggers a chemical reaction in the male that kills them, like a poison. Does that make sense? $\endgroup$
    – JGaines
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ No, it doesn't. If the female produces a trigger hormone in the male that kills him, masturbation or artificial insemination are still safe. If the male simply gains a weird vulnerability to orgasm, well, masturbation Will kill as dead as sex yet you can still extract sperm surgically, it's just much less pleasant. $\endgroup$
    – The Nate
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ @TheNate It's not that artificial insemination is not safe, it's that it's not a possibility. The question requires that artificial insemination not be included as an answer. Also, see my comment to Cyrus. If it were possible the question would be mostly pointless. $\endgroup$
    – JGaines
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ Your question in the above comment was "does that make sense?" It doesn't. If you want a sex only trigger, it has to involve a discriminator. Unless some sort of magic is involved, that's pretty much unavaoidably spoofable. $\endgroup$
    – The Nate
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ @TheNate What do you mean by 'discriminator'? The male and female bodies respond to each other by making specific chemicals/hormones during sex. These chemicals are swapped between the two, it triggers the gene in both granting both fertility. The side effect is that the male dies as a result of the intermingling chemicals. These hormones don't exist outside of sex between a male and female and it is impossible for the species to circumvent the process. The specifics of how the process works aren't what I'm looking for, I'm more concerned with ramifications. $\endgroup$
    – JGaines
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 5:56

First world would probably struggle for a while, but eventually it'll stabilize without too much cultural changes. Humans are quite imaginative, so the classical sex would be just substituted with, well, its other forms (and there would be a lot of new inventions in this area).
The reproduction rate would drop for a while, until the an artificial insemination becomes cheaper - it's likely to happen within just a few years, because all resources would be directed there.
Since artificial insemination becomes a norm, some variation of eugenics could gain popularity.

(Updated) Countries and remote locations that do not have wide access to the modern medicine will probably use, um, the simplest form of "artificial" insemination. It might slightly increase the risk of gynecologic diseases, but probably won't cause serious culture changes.

Countries with strict religion taboos will weaken significantly. They'll either have to loosen their dogmas, possibly causing a major disagreements within the country and drastically changing the culture. Otherwise, they'll experience a fast decline in male population. That might even cause a worldwide wars, because a lot of governments would be tempted to conquer these countries "in order to save them from dying out".


You'll probably see a big age difference between mated pairs. Younger men will be uninterested in having sex because they have much more to lose then a man in his sixties he probably only has a tendency year anyways.

Sex in reproduction would become separate from Love and Marriage. In fact if you are married or in love with someone you probably most certainly would not sleep with them. Might do some other stuff on the side but no sex. Probably what would happen would be that married couples what is assist to help the of an older man who would serve as a sort of sperm donnor.( I'm assuming that whatever world you have doesn't have the technology to impregnate a woman artificially, since that would pretty much fix the problem).

Sex would not be something people do as an expression of love and definitely not something to do for fun. Instead it be looked on as a Duty to society.

Adultery would not exist. You wouldn't be cheating on your partner because you wouldn't be sleeping with your partner in the first place.

Children but also be even more precious and protected than they are now. Since each of these kids was brought with a piece of someone's life literally, killing or otherwise harming a child be viewed as not only a heinous crime but an abomination against nature.

If original Society was anything like ours it will of course be laws put in place protect men from being forced to do it against their will. This would put a limit on how many males would be available to reproduce with. And there might be many couples that can find a willing man to serve as a sperm donor for the mother. If that is the case then it could create a world where children become a sort of status symbol in society. Like having a nice car or expensive clothes is for us today.


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