Tag Archives: birth control

Men Who Can Give Birth (Is ALMOST A Reality)

It’s a common joke that women make about men. I hear it in at least once in every debate that involves gender issues, feminism, or anything that inspires fist fights over Thanksgiving dinner. If men could give birth, then contraception would be a tax write-off and abortion would be available at every Starbucks.

I don’t deny it. A man’s perspective is inherently limited when it comes to understanding women. That’s why we have all these gender issues in the first place. It’s also why some of them can never be resolved, although that’s hardly the only reason. Despite what some of the radical, gender-bending enthusiasts may say, men and women have undeniable differences in their biology, physiology, and psychology.

We are a sexually dimorphic species. One gender is always going to have some perspective or experience that the other cannot relate to, no matter how close they might be. Whether they’re siblings, spouses, or parents, you just can’t get over the fact that one gender gives birth and the other doesn’t.

Sure, a man can sometimes get boobs, albeit in a very unsexy sort of way. However, he can never give birth. He can never know what it’s like to carry a life inside him and then push that life out into the world in a way that has been described as passing a watermelon through a straw.

Well, what if that changed? What if it suddenly became possible for men to actually have a uterus and experience childbirth? Believe it or not, this isn’t another one of my sexy thought experiments. This isn’t just a funny question for women to ask men about. It’s about to become very serious.

According to a story from The Telegraph, the science of putting functioning wombs into transgender women is just about ready for prime time. That means people who began their lives as men will be able to bear children in ways that no man, no matter how girly, has ever been able to experience.

The doctors made it pretty clear too. This is not like artificial wombs, a technology that’s still decades away from perfection. This can happen with our current medical technology. Chances are, it will happen in the next few years and pretty much every head at Fox News is likely to explode.

This is what Dr. Richard Paulson, President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said on the matter.

“You could do it tomorrow,” he said.

“There would be  additional challenges, but I don’t see any obvious problem that would preclude it.

“I personally suspect there are going to be trans women who are going to want to have a uterus and will likely get the transplant.”

While men and women have a different shaped pelvis, he added, there would nevertheless be room for an implanted womb.

Think about this for a second and try to appreciate the implications here, especially if you’re a man. The day where that joke I mentioned earlier about men giving birth isn’t going to be a laughing matter for much longer. Very soon, a man might be able to describe for the first time in the history of the species what it feels like to give birth.

This isn’t just big news for the transgender community, who have faced their share of challenges lately. This is big news for gender dynamics, as a whole. Think back to all the controversies surrounding feminism, gendered politics, and the different factors that make men and women assholes. A lot of that is built on some of these intractable differences between men and women.

Men could never give birth. Women have to give birth in order for the species to survive. It’s an unequal situation that inspires all sorts of unequal, unjust dynamics. Whether it’s egregious traditions of misogyny or insane standards of masculinity, these dynamics ensure that neither gender can ever understand each other on the same level.

However, as medical technology improves, especially with respect to gender reassignment surgery, we’re getting closer to the day where someone born as one gender can change their physiology so completely that it would be indistinguishable from other individuals of that gender.

The ability to give birth was one of those remaining obstacles that kept transgender women from being on the same level as their cis-gendered peers. The other half of that equation, namely the ability to transplant a penis, was already achieved. In fact, the recipient of a transplanted penis actually managed to father a child.

That happened two years ago. This step, having someone who was born a man give birth through a transplanted womb, will complete the process of destroying one of those intractable barriers between the genders. Like in vitro fertilization before it, this technology changes and/or removes the limits that our sexually dimorphic biology has put upon us.

Also like in vitro fertilization, which is still illegal in certain countries, this is sure to intensify the debate surrounding transgender rights. For much of that struggle, even with today’s advances, opponents often painted transgender individuals as mutilated perversions of a particular gender. They would claim the bodies they put themselves in are unnatural and a product of mental disorders.

Well, that perspective loses weight once the transformation from one gender to another becomes so complete that they can do pretty much everything that their cis-gendered peers can do. Whether it’s taking a piss or giving birth, this technology means that people who feel they were born in the wrong bodies can actually complete the transformation they seek.

What will that mean for the transgender community? Moreover, what will that mean for how men and women understand one another? What happens to someone’s perspective when they’ve spent much of their life as a man, but then change into a woman who goes onto give birth?

These are impossible questions to answer now, but it won’t be long before someone is actually able to answer them with real, unfiltered experiences. That kind of insight is unprecedented for our society, our species, and everything we think we understand about the opposite sex.

Other advances in technology, such as those that will make us full-fledged shape-shifters, will further blur the lines between men and women. However, before that technology gets here, this critical step in the process will set the stage. It may help men and women get along. It may trigger a whole new set of debates that make us want to yell at each other just as much.

Whatever the case, our understanding of gender and our ability to understand the opposite sex is changing. Also, if there’s a way for me to turn this into a sexy novel, expect me to do so the first chance I get.

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Update On Artificial Wombs And Potential Obstacles

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Earlier this year, I talked about the promise of artificial wombs and how they could be the ultimate solution to abortion, gender inequality, and stretch marks. At a time when abortion laws are becoming increasingly controversial and people are protesting gender inequality in major cities, I think that promise is becoming increasingly important.

As it stands, though, the science behind artificial wombs is still very young. It may be one of those technologies that doesn’t get perfected within our lifetimes, but then again the pace of technology is wildly unpredictable. Remember, your smartphone is a million times more powerful than every computer at NASA in 1969. Technology can sneak up on us is what I’m saying.

Artificial wombs probably won’t advance at the same pace as smart phones, if only because they involve women’s body parts and we’re always a bit more careful/awkward when it comes to women’s body parts. However, that doesn’t keep the technology from advancing.

Just last month, doctors in Philadelphia were able to bring a premature lamb to term using a special fluid-filled bag that mimicked the conditions of a womb. The baby lamb was able to develop and eventually survive on its own outside the bag. By all accounts, the lambs developed normally.

It’s not a full-blown artificial womb, but it’s an important step. The lambs in this case weren’t entirely grown in the womb. They were placed in the bag just 105 days after conception, which is akin to a human fetus being 22 weeks into its 40-week gestation period.

That means that, if applied to humans, more prematurely-born infants could survive to term. On top of that, if there’s a complication with the mother’s health, she needs to only endure half a pregnancy before transferring the fetus to one of these units. Her life will be saved. The baby’s life will be saved. Given how many children die due to premature birth, this is a technology that could potentially save countless lives.

Then, as the technology improves, it will eventually reach the point where a child can develop entirely within an artificial womb. There’s no need for a woman to endure any pregnancy at all. The extent to which that would change our society, from gender issues to sexuality, cannot be overstated.

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That technology is still a ways off, but we’re literally halfway there. Depending on how the pace of advancement will change, due to financial and regulatory pressures, it’s hard to say whether it’ll happen in my lifetime. However, it will happen. There’s just too much appeal to not having to endure nine months of pregnancy.

That leads me to a personal story that occurred recently while I was meeting with some family friends. It’s a story that highlights one of the biggest issues that artificial wombs would have and it has nothing to do with the technology.

Recently, a close relative of mine had a child. It was a joyous occasion for the entire family. I was certainly happy. I’ve had a chance to see that child grow it’s been a wonderful experience for everyone involved.

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It has also led to a number of discussions about the rigors of pregnancy. Many women in my family have their share of stories about what it was like to grow another human inside them over a nine-month period. Some of those stories were funny. Some of them made me cringe in ways I usually reserve for a dentist appointment.

At one point in that discussion, though, I brought up artificial wombs. I asked them if they had the option of having their child, but without going through the rigors of pregnancy, would they do it? After the stories they described, I thought at least some would jump at the chance. However, none of them did.

It’s true. Every woman I asked said they would still endure nine months of hardship for their child. That surprised me because it hints at the mentality women feel when it comes to bearing their children. As uncomfortable and inconvenient as it is, they still go through it and would do it again for their children. That says a lot about a mother’s love.

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It also hints that the prospect of using artificial wombs in lieu of pregnancy might not catch on, even after the technology is perfected. Even if an artificial womb is healthier, safer, and cheaper than natural birth, there may still be women who opt for the old fashioned way of baby-making.

This isn’t just someone who still opts to use a flip-phone over a smartphone. This is someone who is willing to put their bodies through a rigorous process that technology may very well make obsolete. What does that say about the human mindset, specifically those of women when they bear children?

Could this be a mentality that’s hardwired into our brains? Could this also be a product of people not keeping up with the times? Perhaps younger generations would be more willing to use an artificial womb over natural birth. Cultural attitudes may affect it as well. It may very well be the case that being a woman and not giving birth creates an identity crisis of sorts.

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It’s hard to tell at the moment because the technology is so new. It hasn’t even been used on humans yet, but that is going to happen soon, if only to ensure that premature babies survive. After that, there may be a shift in cultural attitudes. If the technology advances rapidly, it may lead to genuine conflict. In that sense, maybe Aldous Huxley, was onto something when he wrote “Brave New World.”

Maybe my family is unique in their attitudes towards natural birth. Maybe this is a question that we’re not ready to answer yet. Maybe it’s one I’ll ask again at another family gathering, if only to see if their attitudes have changed.

Technology changes societies. Some incur more change than others, as the inventor of ski masks can attest. However, we’ve never had a technology that changes how we actually propagate our species. That puts artificial wombs in a special, uncharted territory. What it means for us and the children we bear remains to be seen.

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The Future Of Contraception (For Men)

There are some technological advancements that are exceedingly overdue. It’s easy to be caught off-guard by some advancements. Who the hell besides “Star Trek” and “The Simpsons” would’ve thought that advances like smart-phones and farm simulators would’ve caught on?

These kinds of advances are nice/shocking/annoying surprises. However, there are some enhancements that seriously need to happen for society to fix a major problem. I’m not talking about nuclear fusion, flying cars, jet packs, or sex robots though, although there has been some recent development in that field. I’m talking about male birth control.

Like nuclear fusion and a “Fantastic Four” movie that doesn’t suck, this is one of those advancements that science has been working on for decades now. Unfortunately, progress has been slow, regressive, or non-existent in some cases. At the same time, however, options for female birth control have only grown, so much so that the amount of choices is almost on part with the flavors of potato chips.

So what’s the hold-up? Why is science dragging its feet here and keeping the burden of contraception solely on the backs of women? Well, before all the radical feminists out there break out their pitchforks and bullhorns, take a deep breath and calm down. It has nothing to do with some vast, misogynistic conspiracy perpetrated by the patriarchy. It’s just a matter of human biology.

The basic science of contraception is simple. There are dozens of steps that go into making a pregnancy happen. All contraception has to do to be effective is stop just one. That’s easy for women because it only involves stopping a single cell, namely the ovum. You can stop it with hormones. You can stop it with implants. In biological terms, it’s relatively easy because it’s one cell. It’s the science equivalent of fighting zombies with a tank.

For men, it’s a bit trickier. It’s akin to trying to hit a barrage of baseballs the size of marbles with an undersized plastic bat. The average “load” of a man contains between 40 million and 200 million sperm cells. Even a hulked-out Barry Bonds on his best day can’t hope to hit every one of those cells.

This is why, with the exception of condoms, it’s so difficult to create a reliable form of contraception for men. It’s a matter of volume, biology, and sheer numbers. Again, the patriarchy isn’t behind this. It’s purely a matter of pragmatics.

That hasn’t stopped science from trying. Naturally, there’s significant demand for a product that’ll ensure men that they’ll never be on the wrong end of a paternity test. For the Evander Holyfields and DMX’s of the world, that’s an important bit of assurance because failing that test can cost a lot in terms of legal recourse.

Earlier this year, one attempt at male birth control ended in miserable failure when men couldn’t handle the side-effects. It made men everywhere the butt of a lot of jokes, especially among women who had been dealing with the side-effects of contraception for decades. As a man, I definitely felt an unseen kick to the balls. That said, it did highlight the inherent difficulty in achieving this critical advancement.

Well, the promise of male birth control might actually be closer than we think and not in the flying cars sort of way. According to ScienceAlert, a new product called Vasalgel is making its rounds through testing and so far, it may hold the most promise to giving men the same control over their fertility that women have enjoyed for decades.

How does it work? It’s basically a dissolvable gel that is injected into vas deferens, which are those tiny tubes that sperm flow through after they leave the testes. The gel blocks the sperm, but not the rest of the seminal fluid that gets released upon ejaculation. That means men still get the sweet, sexy release they crave, but that release contains no sperm. It’s the semen-equivalent of calorie-free soda.

This method is far more preferable in the sense that it doesn’t use hormones, which apparently men aren’t as equipped to handle as women. It’s also not a regiment that requires men to take a pill daily. Given the “meathead effect” caused by testosterone, that’s pretty damn important.

When used properly, which is always key in any medical application, Vasalgel works for approximately ten years. That’s basically then years of baby-free boning for men. Considering how many kids certain professional athletes tend to father, that’s a big deal.

Beyond reducing the need to make child support payments, this form of male contraception is vital with respect to leveling the playing field for genders. Let’s not lie to ourselves, guys. We’re playing an unfair game with unequal rules in the contraception game.

We put the burden on the women to manipulate their bodies accordingly so they don’t get pregnant when they don’t want to. They have to down pills, shoot themselves up with chemicals, or implant little devices up into their lady parts. All we men have to do is put on a latex sheath over our dicks. That’s just not fair.

Beyond putting all these expectations on the ladies we want to love and make love with, we’re also putting ourselves at a disadvantage. You want to know why Maury Povich is in business? It’s because men just don’t have any options beyond condoms or vasectomies to control their fertility. Absent those options, we’re still incredibly horny and, as we routinely demonstrate, we don’t think clearly when we’re horny.

With Vasalgel, assuming it works as advertised, the playing field isn’t just level. The whole contraception game is basically on easy mode. This isn’t something we have to apply in the heat of the moment when we’re so horny that we can barely do basic math. This is something we do at a doctor’s office once every decade and then basically forget about it. Like hot pockets and breakfast burritos, it helps when things are that easy.

Picture the following scenario. A 16-year-old boy is an aspiring athlete. Everyone tells him he has what it takes to play at the college level and maybe even the pros. He’s a big star at the school and, naturally, that attracts a lot of women. He knows that getting a teenage girl pregnant is a very good way to derail any promising future. Just ask Travis Henry.

To nip this issue early on, he goes to a doctor and gets a Vasalgel injection. That means for the rest of his high school and college career, at least, he doesn’t have to worry about getting a girl knocked up. He can enjoy all the naked cheerleaders he wants without worry.

Now this wouldn’t stop some girls from claiming he fathered their child. This does happen. Look up something called “Baller Alert” and prepare to become an angry Al Bundy. Some women do prey, and smartly so, on the horniness of men and use it to their advantage. Vasalgel could stop that.

I believe that if and when Vasalgel gets approved, it’ll also come with a certificate or some indisputable receipt that shows that a man does have this injection. Perhaps it even has a date and time stamp with it because that would help establish timelines for paternity suits, if and when they come up. It would give men an extremely powerful tool not just to control their fertility, but to fight back against predatory baby mamas.

Think back to those professional athletes who couldn’t keep it in their pants. How much money and frustration would they have saved if they had something like Vasalgel?

That’s why I believe that male contraception is a vital advancement. So long as there is an unequal dynamic between genders, there will always be conflict. Balance out that conflict and maybe we can focus less on paternity suits and more on finding better ways to relate to one another. If those ways involve a more honest way of making love, then that’s just a nice bonus.

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Thoughts On Male Birth Control And Why It’s Making Men Look Bad

Let’s face it. Men can be very targeted with their masculinity. Show us a deer that needs killing, a wall that needs smashing, or a bucket of fried food that needs eating and we’ll flex our nuts like we’re John Wayne. We all have egos, but men tend to jump at the chance to feed those egos more than most. Sure, it gets us in trouble and we make asses of ourselves in the process, but it makes us feel manly and that’s all we need.

Men may be overly simple creatures in that respect, but by excessively targeting our masculinity, we leave ourselves vulnerable. It doesn’t matter how thick our manly armor is. If there’s a target on our ass, we’ll get hit and we’ll still whine about it more than we dare admit.

This is why the recent news surrounding the first male birth control shot caught my attention. For those of you too distracted by the World Series, the economy, or sexy romance/erotica novels (hopefully written by me), here’s a quick and dirty recap.

In a study co-sponsored by the UN, a group of 320 healthy men in monogamous relationships were recruited to test a new male birth control method. This method involved two injections given every eight weeks, one consisting of a synthetic form of testosterone and the other consisting of a derivative of the female hormones progesterone and estrogen.

I’m not a doctor. I’m barely qualified to make a cheese sandwich so please don’t take my assessment as definitive. Based on what I’ve read about this procedure, it’s basically a one-two punch of hormones basically tricks a man’s body into thinking it doesn’t need to produce sperm anymore. That’s good if you don’t want to be on the wrong end of a paternity test.

There’s just one problem though and it’s a problem that is making women everywhere roll their eyes and resist the urge to punch something. The study ended because, according to CNN, the men became concerned when side-effects like mood disorders and depression emerged.

On the surface, that sounds like a reasonable concern. If something is affecting your mood that badly, then you should be concerned. If this were just a new blood pressure drug, it wouldn’t be news. The problem is this drug affects our sex lives and in a culture where a wardrobe malfunction becomes a national scandal, it’s going to be news.

If those effects involved men growing a third limb or having the sudden urge to sing show tunes in public, it may be news for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, those reasons are nowhere to be found this time. Instead, this news basically gives women everywhere an excuse to bust more balls and honestly, I can’t say I blame them.

Why can’t I blame them? Well, check out WebMD and look up the side effects of hormonal birth control for women, which has been legal and available for 50 years now. Here’s a quick rundown of the side-effects.

  • Nausea
  • Weight gain
  • Sore or swollen breasts
  • Small amounts of blood, or spotting, between periods
  • Lighter periods
  • Mood changes

These side-effects may not be on par with migraines, dry heaves, and explosive diarrhea, but they’re nothing to scoff at. Women have been enduring them for years and they endure them because they want to have some measure of control over their reproductive destiny. That’s objectively a good thing. We all want to control our lives. That should include the stuff that goes on in our bodies.

However, when it comes to contraception, there’s an undeniable imbalance in terms of who has to take the shot and who has to endure the side-effects. For men, there are no side-effects to condoms other than having to worry about whether your lovers have a latex allergy. They’re also cheap, easy to use, and don’t involve pumping chemicals into our bodies. By all accounts, it’s pretty damn easy.

Compare that with female birth control, which requires either a dose of chemicals or inserting something right up through the vagina and into the uterus. They endure this whereas men will go to any length to avoid inserting anything into their penis. That just doesn’t seem fair, does it?

We humans already have an innate sense of fairness built into our brain wiring. When we see something that we know is unfair, it tends to cause us distress. This discrepancy in contraception definitely triggers that response, if only indirectly.

The fact that women have to bear such a greater burden when utilizing contraception is definitely an issue. I believe it’s part of what fuels some of the gender issues that are driving women apart. Again, this may be indirect, but it’s an effect we can’t ignore.

In nature, when there’s an imbalance, any living system, be it a blob of pond scum or the whole of human civilization, will work to rectify it. Creating contraception that shares the burden between men and women equally is part of an effort that has been going on for centuries, often with unequal results.

A story like this just exposes that inequality even more. It reminds us that men are not bearing their share of the burden. It’s still on the women to make sure that they’re on contraception and that it works. All men can bring to the table is condoms and condoms don’t involve injections into genitals.

This study is definitely a setback and one that’s sure to frustrate women for quite some time. To those women out there, I would only urge patience. I believe that medical science is advancing at a rate our horny ancient ancestors can only dream of.

I’ve talked about the future of the human body and how technology will change it. I believe that one day, we will have the perfect form of contraception that works equally with both genders. It’ll most likely involve a single injection of programmable flesh, each designed to regulate our reproductive systems. It means men and women will be equally capable of controlling their fertility.

When that day comes, it’ll finally balance out what centuries of evolution cannot. It will change the way men and women relate to one another. Hopefully, it means we’ll have fewer stories like this where women want to punch the first man they see for being such a whiner. I say any future where women have fewer reasons to punch men is a future worth fighting for.

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