Mood changes, morning sickness and a slow, painful death. That’s what pregnancy would look like for a man. How could men even get pregnant? Why would a pregnancy be so dangerous for them? And how would society change if any person on Earth could get pregnant?
Maybe you’ve seen Junior. Arnold Schwarzenegger, aka the “Mom-a-nator,” has an embryo implanted in his abdominal cavity. With hormone therapy and surgical labor, he carries a baby to term-inator. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. This is not what would happen in reality.
Regardless of your gender, if you do not have a uterus or attempt to carry a pregnancy outside your uterus, it would be a dangerous situation. Both for you and the baby.
This is known as an extrauterine or ectopic pregnancy. It’s a life-threatening scenario that occurs in one out of every 100 pregnancies. Usually, it’s when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the fallopian tube. But today, we’re going to see what would happen if you could become pregnant just like Arnold. (Arnold impression) Hasta la vista baby.
First, you need to have a fertilized egg implanted in your body. Like in Junior, the abdominal cavity could be a good candidate. If implanted at the right moment of development, the embryo could attach itself to any living tissue it finds. That could be your kidney, liver or even spleen.
If there is enough placental formation, the fetus could develop, and you could carry it for nine months. This happened to a South African woman and her baby in 2003. The embryo developed in the woman’s liver. And after a complex operation, this miracle baby was born, weighing 2.8 kg (6.2 lb). This was a rare success considering that one in 200 extrauterine pregnancies are deadly for the mother.
The biggest issue here is detachment. In a typical pregnancy, the endometrium, or a specialized lining of the uterus, completely detaches when giving birth. If you carried a pregnancy in your abdomen, this kind of detachment wouldn’t be possible. It would require some very challenging surgery to remove the placental material.
The biggest risk would be suffering an injury that could cause internal bleeding. Even then, the embryo itself could damage whichever organ it was attached to. This could lead to spontaneous hemorrhaging and death. Maybe it would be safer if you could have a uterus transplanted in your body. But this would be incredibly complicated.
Transplants, in general, are complex. Your immune system could reject the new body part. Plus, if your body has never had a uterus, you’d need to make sure it receives a natural blood supply to carry a baby. You’d need to divert arteries and veins to send blood to this new organ.
So with one major surgery to get a uterus and another to deliver the baby, there would be many risks. And even though it could be possible, it’s never been done. But according to some medical experts, this could happen in the near future. Of course, these scenarios don’t mean that anyone could just become pregnant.
It would require a lot of decisions and operations. But let’s get hypothetical. Without limits to who could become pregnant, the world would surely change. If men, who statistically dominate business and political professions, could get pregnant, abortions could become legal or more readily available in more places.
Paid leave for pregnancies would probably be more commonplace too. Family planning would dramatically change. Couples could take turns bearing children depending on where they are physically, mentally or in their careers. It could lead to diverse and safer types of birth control. If anyone could get pregnant, developing effective contraceptives would be important.
Otherwise, the population could rise even faster. And last but certainly not least, this could all lead to more empathy regarding pregnancy, birth and parental leave. While men may be biologically unable to carry a pregnancy today, anything could be possible in the future. Like growing babies in artificial wombs.
- “Ectopic (Extrauterine) Pregnancy” 2020. webmd.com.
- “The Mystery Of Male Pregnancy And Birth In Seahorses”. Madeline Bodin. 2020. discovermagazine.com.
- ” BBC NEWS | Health | Miracle Baby ‘Grew In Liver’ “. 2022. news.bbc.co.uk.
- “Ectopic Pregnancy In The Liver Incidentally Diagnosed By Imaging: A Case Report”. Cai, Ye-Yu, En-Hua Xiao, Quan-Liang Shang, and Li-Zhi Xiao. 2017. Experimental And Therapeutic Medicine 14 (1): 373-376. doi:10.3892/etm.2017.4478. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- “Can A Man Really Get Pregnant? Sure, But It Might Kill Him”. Lee Silver. 2008. science20.com.
- “If Men Could Get Pregnant, There Would Be Drive-Thru Abortion Clinics”. Katie Jgln. 2021. medium.com.