Pregnancy and giving birth to kids is a specific attribute linked to women only. Nature has built this specific characteristic of giving birth to kids to women only. However, in modern times, we have come across many questions like “Can men become pregnant?” Is it possible for the male gender to give birth to kids?
If such questions are hovering over in your mind and searching for answers to these questions, search no more. You have stumbled in at the very right place. Here in this writing, we will discuss everything you need to know about male pregnancy and determine under what conditions men can get pregnant. So, stay connected to us and continue reading this guide until the end so that you can explore more and more information regarding male pregnancy.
Can Men Get Pregnant?
While discussing male pregnancy, this is undoubtedly the first thing that comes to your mind: Can men get pregnant? A quick answer is YES; they can. Men can get pregnant and give birth to a child, and it is much more common than you might think. Any individual who has a uterus and ovaries can become pregnant and give birth to a kid.
Misconceptions Regarding the term “Man.”
To explain this fact, first of all, we will remove the misconceptions that people usually have in their minds when it comes to understanding the term “man.”
A person can become pregnant only if they have a uterus. The uterus is a womb in which the fetus develops. Male reproductive organs consist of testicles and penis but not the uterus.
Not all declared males at birth (Assigned Male at Birth, AMAB) are identified as men. Those are assigned as male as cisgender men. On the flip side, some people are assigned female at birth (Assigned Female at Birth, AFAB) but are identified as men. These folks are either “transgender” men or transmasculine people.
Who is Trans-masculine?
Trans-masculine is a specific term used to represent an AFAB person representing the masculine side of the spectrum. Such a person can either be identified as a man or given any other gender identity such as nonbinary, agender, or genderqueer.
These AFAB folks who have been identified as men possess the reproductive organs necessary to carry a child. In addition to that, many emerging technologies make it possible for AMAB folks to carry a child.
Do You Have Uterus and Ovaries?
Some folks have uterus and ovaries, are not on testosterone, and have been identified as men who may wish to become pregnant. The process of pregnancy is similar to that of a cisgender woman unless you have taken testosterone.
Let’s discuss the process of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a child for AFAB individuals who have uterus and ovaries and have been on testosterone.
AFAB folks and transgender men who are not identified as female may choose to undergo a wide range of medical treatments and surgical procedures during the transition process.
Some of the examples of gender-affirming surgical procedures for transgender men are listed below.
Male Chest Reduction or Top Surgery
This procedure involves the removal of both the breasts and other underlying breast tissues.
Hysterectomy is the removal of internal female reproductive organs, including the uterus and ovaries.
Phalloplasty is a procedure in which the surgeon constructs a neopenis from skin grafts. Partial hysterectomy involves the removal of the womb but not the ovaries, cervix, and fallopian tubes.
Metoidioplasty is a treatment that implies a combination of surgery and hormone therapy to enlarge the clitoris to make it function as a penis.
If a person undergoes a partial hysterectomy, the fertilized eggs can latch onto the fallopian tubes or the abdomen, which results in ectopic pregnancy; however, this is very rare.
Conception – How it occurs, and what are its Results?
Conception can occur in many ways, such as sexual intercourse or through the use of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (AST). AST involves using sperm or eggs from a donor or a partner.
If a person wants to conceive, he will have to stop using testosterone; however, it isn’t uncommon for people who are on testosterone to become pregnant due to having unprotected vaginal sex. For those individuals who decide to take testosterone, their menses usually stop within six months of starting Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Testosterone and Pregnancy Prevention
More research is needed in individual physiology to discover how effective testosterone use is as a pregnancy prevention method. Trans-men who have undergone two pregnancies claim that doctors falsely tell people that starting testosterone will make them infertile.
Testosterone therapy usually helps in suppressing the effects of estrogen and simultaneously stimulating the development of masculine secondary sex characteristics, which include:
- Muscle growth
- Redistribution of body fat
- Deeper voice
- Increased hair growth on the body and face
Very little research has been conducted on gender non-conforming pregnancies and the effect of HRT on fertility; however, the results are overwhelmingly positive. Research conducted on transgender men and trans-masculine individuals depicted that those people who stopped taking testosterone became pregnant. They discovered that most of the respondents conceived a child within six months of stopping testosterone. A few of them conceived without even having resumed menstruation.
However, the researchers didn’t find considerable differences in pregnancy among those who didn’t use testosterone. Some individuals reported complications including hypertension, preterm labor, anemia, and placental interruption; however, all these conditions were consistent in cisgender women.
Anemia is a common condition that occurs among cisgender women during pregnancy. Surprisingly, none of the individuals who reported anemia had ever taken testosterone, yet pregnancy can be challenging emotionally.
Is Conception Linked to Feminine Only?
The victims of conception state that there is nothing feminine about conception, pregnancy, and delivery. They claim that our body parts or bodily functioning are not inherently gendered. If your body has the potential to gestate a fetus, and that’s something you want to experience, then pregnancy is for you too.
However, people who experience gender dysphoria may claim that the feelings may become intense as the body reshapes during pregnancy. In addition to that, skipping testosterone may also intensify the feelings of gender dysphoria, although discomfort and dysphoria aren’t applicable for all trans-individuals who become pregnant. Instead, some individuals claim that the idea of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a kid enhances their connection with their body.
In short, we can say that the emotional impact of pregnancy is entirely dependent on each individual’s personal experience.
Delivery – Does Testosterone Use Affect Birth Outcomes?
Researches claim that most of the folks who reported testosterone use before conception has a C-section (cesarean) delivery, although the difference wasn’t drastically significant. It’s worth mentioning that most people preferred to go for C-section delivery themselves, possibly due to discomfort or other complications associated with vaginal delivery.
Hence, researchers concluded that pregnancy, delivery, and other birth outcomes didn’t alter before testosterone use.
The utmost care and attention must be given to fulfill the unique needs of transgender individuals following childbirth. The most significant concern for them is postpartum depression. Studies claim that 1 out of 7 cisgender women experience postpartum depression. Simultaneously, we are not unaware that trans-community faces much higher rates of mental health conditions which means they may experience postpartum depression in higher numbers. Hence, they need special care and counseling.
Furthermore, the method of feeding a newly born baby is something that needs to be given significant importance. If you have chosen to have a bilateral mastectomy, you might not be able to chest feed. People who didn’t have top surgery or have gone for procedures such as periareolar top surgery can still chest feed their newborn baby. It is the individual’s choice to decide either he wants to go for chest feeding or not.
Transgender men and lactation
There have been several studies conducted on transgender men and lactation. Exogenous testosterone has long been used as a method for suppressing lactation, which means individuals who take testosterone during chest feeding may experience a decreased production of milk. Hence, you need to consider delaying your return testosterone usage to control milk production and chest feed your baby.
An individual born without a Uterus or no longer has it.
Although there has not been any case of pregnancy in an AMAB individual; however, with the advancements in technology, reproductive technology, in particular, such a case might appear shortly. We can expect to see a pregnancy case, especially in those AMAB folks who have had hysterectomies and the ones who are born without ovaries or a uterus.
Pregnancy through the Uterus Transplant
The first baby through the transplanted uterus arrived in Sweden back in October 2014. Although this procedure is in its early experimental stages, several other babies have arrived in the world through Uterus transplant.
Like many such technologies, this method was developed keeping cisgender women in mind. However, many researchers have begun to speculate that the method of Uterus transplant can be implemented on transgender women and other AMAB individuals.
Doctors claim that uterine transplants for trans-women and AMAB folks are more or less possible now. Although the methods will pose additional challenges, however, there isn’t any obvious problem that might preclude it.
It might turn out to be like that supplementation which is necessary to replicate hormonal phases during pregnancy. Also, C-section would be necessary for those who have undergone gender confirmation surgery.
Risks Associated with Uterus Transplantation
There are numerous risks involved with uterus transplantation. Let’s discuss them.
First of all, the surgery is a complicated procedure as it requires that the organ is connected correctly to the body’s veins and arteries, ensuring an adequate blood supply. Even the slightest issue in the blood supply can cause the organ to die.
In addition to that, individuals who undergo organ transplants must take medications to suppress their immune systems. This suppressing of the immune system is necessary; otherwise, the body will reject the organ. But the problem with these medications is that they alter the functioning of the immune system and enhance the risk of developing infections.
Risks of Uterus Transplantation Particularly in Men
There are additional risks associated with surgery in men because the body’s anatomy is not naturally crafted for space and blood supply for the womb.
Furthermore, men do not produce hormones needed to support pregnancy which means they need a lot of hormone therapy to allow pregnancy to occur. These factors enhance the risk of complications.
Animal studies are needed to study the doses of hormones needed to support pregnancy in men and to observe either the blood flow to the uterus is adequate or not after transplantation.
Pregnancy through Abdominal Cavity
On the flip side, AMAB individuals can carry a baby in the abdominal cavity. This method is based on the fact that very few eggs are fertilized outside the womb in a procedure known as ectopic pregnancy.
But you must bear this thing in mind that ectopic pregnancies are extremely dangerous, especially for a gestational parent. These pregnancies usually require surgery. More research is needed to make it possible for individuals who don’t have a uterus. Even then, it might seem incredibly unlikely that this would be a viable option for a hopeful parent.
In the modern era and with advancements in technology, it is evident that a person’s gender doesn’t determine that they can become pregnant. Research shows that many men have had kids, and much more are likely to have in the future.
In the upcoming times, it seems quite feasible that emerging technologies like uterus transplants will make it possible for AMAB folks to become pregnant and give birth to kids of their own.
At this point, it is essential for the community not to subject those who become pregnant, instead provide support and care to them regardless of their gender and the sex they were assigned at birth. The best thing you can do is create a supportive and friendly environment for men who become pregnant and help them raise their own families.