Possibility of Male Pregnancy

The First Human Male Pregnancy - I haven't read any confirmation of this in the medical literature, so I don't know whether it's for real or not.  [This Urban Legends and Folklore page refutes the claim of the actuality of a male pregnancy at this time.]
As far as I know, there is yet to be discovered a substitute for the womb. A fetus needs this environment to develop and grow for many months before surviving outside it. (Anybody out there know the record for viability?) "preemies" also frequently face enourmous physical and mental challenges. So women's BODIES are still absolutely necessary for reproducing life?

Well, technically this isn't true.

Extrauterine pregnancies (also called abdominal pregnancies) are possible, and an amazing 5% of them are viable. It's very rare, but babies can be grown abdominally and then born live by surgical delivery. This sometimes happens when the fertilized egg heads the wrong way down the Fallopian tube and comes out in the abdomen instead of in the uterus.

All that is necessary is for a fertilized egg to implant in a place where it can tap into a blood supply. The uterus is ideally suited to this function, but other internal organs can be attached to; the fertilized egg produces enzymes which eat into whatever it lands on so that it can attach and tap into the blood vessels.

There are two catches:

The fetus is essentially a parasite; whereas the uterus is designed to support the parasite, other internal organs are not, and serious damage can be done to the host.

If the fetus implants in a place where it can thrive without killing the host, it can grow to a point where it is viable and can be delivered surgically. However, this leaves the big problem of what to do about the implantation site. Again, the uterus is ideally suited to coping with the eight-inch wound left when the placenta separates; other organs have no mechanism for helping the placenta to separate and then contracting around themselves to stop the bleeding.

Current medical practice is to cut the umbilical cord close to the placenta and leave it inside. If all goes well, it will eventually shrink and be reabsorbed. There is a serious risk of infection and other complications.

So, although it's possible to grow a baby without a uterus, it's very unlikely and very dangerous.

From: (AFP)
Subject: Men can have babies too, says fertility expert: report
Organization: Copyright 1999 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)
Date: Sat Feb 20 18:22:08 PST 1999

LONDON, Feb 21 (AFP) - Advances in medical technology mean men could now bear children, according to one of Britain's leading fertility experts, the Sunday Times reported.

The paper, citing a forthcoming book by Lord Winston, says doctors could use modern techniques to implant an embryo into a man's abdomen, allowing him to carry it to full term and give birth by caesarian section.

Professor Robert Winston, who was ennobled three years ago, is head of the fertility clinic at a leading London hospital.

"Male pregnancy would certainly be possible, and would be the same as when a woman has an ectopic pregnancy -- outside the uterus -- although to sustain it, you'd have to give the man lots of female hormones," the paper quoted him as saying.

He outlines the concept in a book due to be published in April.

Winston said such foetuses could be implanted inside the abdomen with the placenta, through which the baby is fed, attached to an
internal organ, such as the bowel.    He acknowledges it would be dangerous because of the risk of bleeding from the placenta, and hormone treatment could leave the man with larger breasts.

The idea of a man giving birth was the plot of the Hollywood film "Junior" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the parent-to-be, and Danny DeVito.

If it did indeed prove possible, it could benefit homosexual couples and heterosexual couples where the woman could not physically carry a baby, the paper added.

The Sunday times cited a recent case of a woman in England who carried a baby outside the womb. The embryo made its way into her abdomen and attached itself to her bowel, but she was able to continue with the pregnancy without mishap.

Other fertility experts quoted by the paper agreed male pregnancies were, in theory, possible, but warned of ethical problems.

From: (AFP)
Subject: Baby born after out-of-womb pregnancy
Organization: Copyright 1999 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)
Date: Tue Feb 23 15:24:33 PST 1999

WARSAW, Feb 23 (AFP) - A girl named Patricia was born in a clinic in Grudziadz, northwestern Poland, after developing outside her mother's womb, doctors there said.

The foetus, which normally grows in the uterus, lodged in one of the pregnant woman's Fallopian tubes, forcing the doctors to place the girl, who weighed 2.2 kilograms (4.84 pounds) at birth on Monday, in an incubator.

The process, said to present grave risks for the mother, rarely goes to term in Europe, although specialists say it is slightly more frequent in Africa.

Doctors generally terminate the pregnancy at the first sign of danger for the woman, but in this case it was discovered at a late stage of development.

"We've had two cases of this kind, with birth of the infant, one involving an African woman, the other a woman from a French province," said Dr. Fady Abirached, an obstetrician at the Cochin Hospital in Paris.

The term "abdominal pregnancy" is appropriate according to specialists, because the foetus and its placenta develop in the abdomen.

In these cases, the placenta gets nourishment from blood vessels in the intestines and passes it on to the foetus.

"An incision is made in the abdominal wall to remove the infant and the placenta is left in place, to reduce the risk of haemorrhaging," said Dr. Michel Tournaire of the Saint-Vincent de Paul hospital in Paris.

The placenta is then left to wither in place.

This Web page is referenced from another page containing related information about Miscellaneous Prenatal Information

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