Men Pregnancy: Reality or Science-fiction?

Margherita Olivo
January 9th 2016

The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio is working to perform the first uterus transplant in the United States. The surgery would give a woman born without a uterus the chance to have a child. This raises the question: could uterus transplants allow men to get pregnant?

The Cleveland Clinic operation can also apply to women with uterus malfunctions and women whose uterus has been removed for medical problems. If this procedure will be easier and more common in the future it would give hope for an estimated 50,000 women (in the US only) who has problems with their uterus.

Some of these surgeries have already been tested in Sweden with a discrete success, the donors were fine and the research team registered at least four births. The first transplant, however, will only be temporary, the uterus will be removed only after the second pregnancy to interrupt and limit the anti-rejection therapy. But unlike the Swedish tests in which they used live donors, in this case the organs will be taken from deceased women to avoid complications for the donors.

With this being said, does it mean that men will be able to get pregnant too? Remember in the fifth episode of Star Trek: Enterprise when Commander Trip Tucker has been impregnated by an alien species? We have also seen it in various feminist science-fiction novels (Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time or Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness). They were picturing advanced future societies where the experience of pregnancy is not only limited to women. But this is not science-fiction and of course we are very far from a society in which this is considered routine.

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Rebecca Flyckt, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Cleveland Clinic, commented as follows: "Although theoretically this would be possible, it would be a huge surgical and endocrinologic undertaking and involve not just the creation of a vagina but also surgical reconstruction of the whole pelvis by someone skilled in transgender surgery. After this procedure and the grafting of a donor uterus - she continued - a complex hormone regimen would be required to support a pregnancy prior to and after embryo transfer. Instead of using the patient's eggs, doctors would use his sperm and a eggs from his partner or a donor. He would have to have his sperm frozen before the surgery, but this is pretty routine".

Source: The New York Times, Business Insider UK

Images: Shutterstock, io9

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Should men be able to give birth to children?


Joyce Nabuurs: To me this question seems to be a logical next step in the emancipation movement of the past century. More and more women entered the workspace, but the responsibility for pregnancy and childrearing remained female.

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