National Post

Monday, February 22, 1999

Men could have babies, fertility expert says

National Post


Arnold Schwarzenegger (with Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson, above) played a pregnant man in Junior.

Men could now bear children because of advances in medical technology, says Britain's foremost fertility expert.

Today's techniques would allow doctors to implant an embryo in a man's abdomen, allowing him to carry a child to term and have it delivered by Caesarean section. The procedure would help heterosexual couples when the woman could not become pregnant, and would even allow male homosexual couples to bear children.

A new book to be published in April by Lord Winston, who pioneered in-vitro fertilization, will outline the concept, which could overturn millions of years of evolution and stir immense debate on the way children are created. The Times of London reported yesterday that Lord Winston -- who, as Professor Robert Winston, was ennobled three years ago -- said the foetus could be implanted inside the abdomen with the placenta attached to an internal organ.

The baby would receive all its necessary nutrients through the placenta.

The child-bearing man would also have to receive plenty of female hormones.

There would be many risks, including bleeding from the implanted placenta. The hormone treatments might also lead the man to grow breasts.

Lord Winston, who presented the acclaimed British television series The Human Body, doubts the concept would be rushed into implementation.

But the concept is not dissimilar in theory to ectopic pregnancies of women, in which the foetus is sustained outside the uterus.

The concept was the central theme of the film Junior, in which the unlikely figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a man who becomes pregnant.

The Times said other fertility experts agreed the fantasy could now become a reality. One British specialist said the placenta provides the necessary conditions for development, but that it need not be inside a woman.

The procedure's possibilities were recently demonstrated in the case of a British woman who carried a baby outside her womb. Doctors said the case means the possession of a uterus is not absolutely necessary and that male "pregnancies" are possible.

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