Andorian/Gender and Reproduction
Andorians have 4 genders, 2 of which resemble males and 2 of which resemble females. These are called Thaan, Chan, Shen and Zhen. This can result in some confusion among outsiders. Sometimes it is difficult to tell what gender an Andorian is on sight. This is especially true as a chan can appear to be feminine and a shen can appear to be masculine.
A Thaan has internal testes, retractable penis and produces sperm to fertilize the egg of a Shen.
A Chan has internal testes, retractable penis and produces sperm to fertilize the egg of a Shen.
A Shen has a retractable ovipositor which they use to transfer the fetus from their uterus to the pouch of a Zhen. They also have a vagina, ovaries and uterus. They receive the sperm, produce the egg which then develops into a embryo and then transfer it to the Zhen's pouch once it has developed enough to make the transfer safely.
A Zhen has a vagina which is only useable for pleasure, not reproduction. They also have 4 teats on their lower abdomen and the ability to produce a pouch that is used to house the transferred embryo while it grows.
In order for Andorians to produce a child it takes 1 of each gender. They each have a specific role to play. This starts with the Thaan fertilizing the Shen's egg. Then the Chan has to fertilize it next. The reason for this is that the 2 males, the Thaan and the Chan each have 1/4 of the necessary genetic material needed to create a child. The Shen has the other half with in her egg.
Once the egg has developed into a fetus it has to be transferred to the Zhen. This is because only the Zhen can nurse the young. When the Shen becomes pregnant special glands along the Zhen's spine become active. They will secrete a membrane that forms a pouch around the lower torso. At this time the 4 teats on the Zhen's lower abdomen will start to form milk. Unlike Humans these do not result in rounded breasts. The inner lining of the pouch produces a thick gel that will protect the baby while it nurses until it is mature enough to survive outside of the pouch.
Once the baby has emerged from the pouch the Zhen will come out of protective seclusion. Her pouch will dry up and flake away. The other 3 bondmates will then assist by rubbing her with oils and help to peel off the remains of the now useless pouch. Due to the fact that Andorian fertility periods have been slowly getting shorter they will try to conceive as many children as possible during this period and since fewer viable children have been born the Andorians have been forced to arrange bondings among genetically compatible members of their society. This has replaced allowing the young people to pick their bondmates. As with most humanoid races most Andorians will experiment with sex at puberty. Since their fertility period is so short it is impossible to produce offspring before or after this time. If they are found to be genetically acceptable they will generally be bonded by the age of 23.
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