Anti-Science

The Woo(mb)

Male Sea Horses carry eggs deposited by their female counterparts in a pouch, where the egg becomes fertilized, and the hatchlings are nurtured to term. That, unfortunately, is the best information we have about male pregnancy at this time.

The website www.malepregnancy.com would have us believe otherwise. The well-crafted site claims to have successfully impregnated a man, Lee Mingwei. The obvious problem is that Mr. Mingwei lacks a uterus, which is integral to the pregnancy process, but his pregnancy is theoretically possible as an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are risky for anyone, and the site talks about measures taken to prevent massive hemorrhaging and the potential damage to surrounding organs. The web page entitled “The Science of Male Pregnancy” explains that Mr. Mingwei took large doses of female hormones in order to prepare for the pregnancy and that the implantation occurred via IVF into the peritoneum, the smooth membrane that lines the abdominal area. The concept is interesting to consider.

But it’s just a hoax. According to The Museum of Hoaxes, the website was created by artist Virgil Wong as an intricate hoax, and the site has been around since 1999. If there were a Mr. Mingwei, and he were pregnant, he’d either be carrying a seven year old in his abdominal cavity or male gestation is reeeaaallly slow. Ironically, the site specifically denies being a War of the Worlds hoax, which is exactly what it was created to be.

There was, however, a shocking and true story on male pregnancy in 2006. ABC News covered the story of Sanju Bhagat, a victim of the rare medical abnormality “fetus in fetu”. He carried his twin brother as a parasite for forty years, until his stomach finally became so distended that he couldn’t breathe and went to the hospital. There, the doctors basically performed a C-section on what they originally thought was a tumor. Instead they found Mr. Bhagat’s partially formed twin brother.

There was another claim of successful male pregnancy in the 1960’s. According to Alex Boese, “Dr. Cecil Jacobson claimed that he successfully engineered a male pregnancy in a baboon. This is the same Dr. Jacobson who was later arrested for impregnating 75 women at his fertility clinic with his own sperm without their knowledge, which may suggest that he has a little bit of a credibility problem.”

I personally think male pregnancy is a great idea – tell me where to mail my donation for research. But, unfortunately, for now the miracle of birth, morning sickness, and stretch marks are still reserved for the fairer sex. Still, a few of us hopefuls may hold out until science catches up with the woo.

Male Pregnancy
ABC News: Sanju Bhagat
Museum of Hoaxes: Male Pregnancy
Skeptical Inquirer Male Pregnancy, March/April 2007, Page 22

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12 Comments

  1. Pregnancy is the most insidious of all std's! You girls can keep it! It was you who ate the apple, after all. ;) Speaking of which, I wonder how the Christians would explain a successful birth from a male.

    I do suppose male pregnancy would greatly reduce male promiscuity!

    Still, *shudder*

  2. I'm reminded of Monty Python's Life of Brian, Stan (who wants to be called Loretta) wants to have babies. The leader of the group says "You can't have babies, you haven't got a womb. Where's the fetus going to gestate, are you going to keep it in a cardboard box?"

    And Stan/Loretta responds with "Don't you oppress me!"

  3. Pregnancy is the most insidious of all std’s!

    And males are just carriers.

    I do suppose male pregnancy would greatly reduce male promiscuity!

    You know the bumper sticker. "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be sacred."

  4. Does a fetus in an ectopic pregnancy actually develop an umbillical cord? And if it does, what would it attach to, and how would it derive nutrients from that location?

    Essentially, the womb is like an egg. The only difference is that birds and reptiles expell their egg, and mammals keep it inside where the mother can provide it with added protection, warmth and food. It's a required organ to have offspring, and the only way men could have babies is if they had an operation to implant a womb.

    Anyone who would believe otherwise clearly hasn't thought this through properly …

  5. it would be nice if i could just hand off my pregnancy to my husband… maybe once a month or so… maybe just when i've had a rough day at work… "here, honey, you be pregnant tonight. i am in desperate need of seven martinis. thanks. oh yeah, and don't plan on sleeping, he's just going to kick you all night."

    but since we decided to go the "traditional" route and impregnate the female, maybe we could just work on male breastfeeding.

  6. Exarch – According to the Fetus in fetu story, a fetus can develop an "umbilical cordlike structure" inside a male:

    "The trapped fetus can survive as a parasite even past birth by forming an umbilical cordlike structure that leaches its twin's blood supply until it grows so large that it starts to harm the host, at which point doctors usually intervene."

  7. Does a fetus in an ectopic pregnancy actually develop an umbillical cord? And if it does, what would it attach to, and how would it derive nutrients from that location?

    Yes, it develops an umbilical cord and a placenta. Placentas are fetal tissue.

    The placenta can attach virtually anywhere. By definition, an ectopic pregnancy is one in which the embryo attaches somewhere other than the lining of the uterus. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tubes (oviducts), but the embryo can also adhere to the mesenteric membrane or any of the intra-abdominal organs. The placenta can derive nutrients from any vascularized tissue, and it invades any tissue to which it becomes attached seeking closer association with blood vessels. Placentation in humans is very invasive and aggressive, which is why ectopic pregnancies have to potential to be life-threatening.

  8. Essentially, the womb is like an egg. The only difference is that birds and reptiles expell their egg, and mammals keep it inside where the mother can provide it with added protection, warmth and food. It’s a required organ to have offspring, and the only way men could have babies is if they had an operation to implant a womb.

    There actually have been a few documented cases in which ectopic pregnancies have resulted in viable fetuses, but I believe that, in every case, they resulted from poor prenatal care, such that the ectopic nature of the pregnancy was not detected until very late. It would be highly irresponsible to deliberately allow such a pregnancy to progress to that stage, let alone deliberately to cause one in the first place.

  9. So the consensus is that a male could technically have a baby if a fertilized egg were implanted somewhere in the abdomen. The fetus would provide its own placenta and (I presume) amniotic sack. The only problem would be the potential for internal dammage to the intestines. Well, that and the fact there's no natural opening through which the child could get out, which would imply having a second operation to remove it again once fully gestated.

  10. Exarch – exactly the concerns listed on the website. It seems the uterus is a safe place for all of this attaching and growing to go on. Outside the uterus, it's very dangerous. The site talked about possibly removing parts of the surrounding organs, like the intestines, when they performed the C-section. It's a hoax, but it's relatively well researched.

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