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Do men and women receive different ancestry information from 23andMe?

23andMe uses the same genotyping technology for both women and men, and everyone receives information based on the DNA they inherited from both parents. Ancestry-related features, such as the Ancestry Composition report and the DNA Relatives tool, include DNA you inherited from recent ancestors on both sides of your family, and these results are available to both women and men.

The paternal assignment in the Haplogroups report, however, uses DNA that is only inherited by males. Since this haplogroup assignment is traced through the Y-chromosome DNA, which women do not inherit, the assignment is only available for males.

Each Ancestry report looks at a unique aspect of your family story. You can learn more about how your DNA is used in our Ancestry reports, by selecting the different types of DNA:

    • Autosomal DNA (chromosomes 1-22)
    • Sex Chromosomes (X Y)
    • Mitochondrial DNA
Autosomal DNA (chromosomes 1-22)

The analysis of the 22 autosomes is the same for women and men and provides the same information and level of detail. For each pair of these chromosomes one comes from your mother and the other from your father: two copies of the same recipe with slightly different ingredients. The autosomes - along with the X sex chromosome - are what we use to determine your matches in the DNA Relatives tool and most of your reports - including Ancestry Composition and Neanderthal Ancestry.

Sex Chromosomes (X Y)

Sex chromosomes determine if you are female (XX) or male (XY). Women inherited two copies of the X chromosome - one from each parent - while men inherited one X chromosome from their mother and one Y chromosome from their father.

Since men and women have different sex chromosomes, there are some small differences in the ancestry information they receive.

Ancestry Composition

The Ancestry Composition report, displays only a single X chromosome for men and two X chromosomes for women:

Male

Female

Haplogroups Report

Since women do not have a Y chromosome, 23andMe cannot directly provide a Y-chromosome haplogroup (also known as a paternal haplogroup) to women in the Haplogroups report. This haplogroup assignment is traced through the Y chromosome, which women do not inherit. Women can infer a Y-haplogroup assignment from the haplogroup assignment of their father, brother, or paternal uncle.

Haplogroups are one small part of your ancestry analysis. The 23andMe Personal Genetic Service provides you with information from all branches of your family tree using your autosomal DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)

All of us have mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Since your mitochondrial DNA is inherited from your mother -- and she received it from her mother, and so on -- it can shed light on the ancient origins of your maternal ancestors.

Mitochondrial haplogroups (also known as a maternal haplogroup) - located in the Haplogroups report - are families of mitochondrial DNA types that all trace back to a single mutation at a specific place and time. By looking at the geographic distribution of mtDNA types, we learn how our ancient female ancestors migrated throughout the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am female, will I receive paternal information?

Yes, features such as the Ancestry Composition report and the DNA Relatives tool will include your recent paternal ancestry. However, unless a parent is genotyped, we will not be able to differentiate the maternal and paternal contributions to your recent ancestry. Keep in mind that women will not receive a Y-chromosome (paternal) haplogroup since it is determined by the Y chromosome, which women do not inherit. If your father, brother, or paternal uncle is genotyped, you will be able to infer a paternal haplogroup from his assignment.

I am female, where can I find my paternal haplogroup?

Women will not directly receive a Y-chromosome (paternal) haplogroup assignment in the Haplogroups report, since it is determined by the Y chromosome which women do not have. If your father, brother, or paternal uncle is genotyped, you will be able to infer a paternal haplogroup assignment from his assignment.

I am female, can I use my son's haplogroup to find out about my father?

Your son inherited his Y chromosome from his father, not from your father, so his paternal haplogroup assignment won't provide any information about your paternal lineage or your father's haplogroup. However, if your brother or paternal uncle used the 23andMe Personal Genetic Service, you would be able to infer your father’s haplogroup assignment from theirs.


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