Conjoined twins Lupita and Carmen Andrade have shared a body for more than two decades but they are determined to make the most out of their lives despite the challenges.
The 22-year-old sisters, who are connected at the torso and share a pelvis and reproductive system, told American daily Today that they each have different personalities but, together, they make a good team.
For instance, Ms Carmen Andrade does the driving because she is in control of the right leg, while Ms Lupita Andrade is in charge of choosing the tunes and navigation.
The two women moved to the United States from Mexico when they were babies and now live in Connecticut.
Carmen said she has been dating her boyfriend Daniel McCormack for 2½ years after they met through a dating app. Lupita is asexual.
Carmen said: “I never tried to hide the fact that I am a conjoined twin, which meant I got a lot of messages from guys with fetishes. I knew right off the bat that Daniel was different from others, because he didn’t lead with a question about my condition.”
When Carmen wishes to spend more time with her boyfriend, she lets her sister choose where they are going and the activity they are doing.
The couple have been talking about getting engaged, but want to live together first.
“Both Daniel and I love kids, but we don’t want any of our own. Lupita and I cannot get pregnant; we have endometriosis and we are also on a hormone blocker that prevents us from menstruating,” she said.
The twins said their parents considered separation surgery when they were younger but did not go through with it as it was too risky.
Lupita said there was a possibility that they could both die or end up in critical condition from the surgery as they share many internal organs.
Growing up, the twins had to deal with mean comments and they still get them from time to time.
Said Carmen: “The popular kids would infantilize us and talk to us like we were babies. Now, we get a lot of questions about sex and how we go to the bathroom and stuff like that.”
Despite the challenges, the twins do not shy away from enjoying life, such as going to movies and concerts and traveling abroad.
Their clothes are usually made by buying two of the same pieces and sewing them together. They have their own distinct traits, however, like having different hair lengths, glasses and piercings.
They are also in tune with each other’s emotions, as one might expect of twins.
“We were recently in a store and I felt a weird stomach drop – and I knew it was coming from my sister. A man was pretending to film his daughter, but he was really filming us,” said Carmen.
She is in college studying to be a veterinary nurse, while Lupita hopes to work in the same field as a technician.
“We are both in the veterinary field, so we need to be able to carry some pretty large dogs. My goal is to bench-press 100 pounds,” said Carmen.