Could male pregnancy be a thing in just five years?

Men may be able to share the experience of pregnancy in just five years, experts say.
Men may be able to share the experience of pregnancy in just five years, experts say. Photo: Getty Images

Every woman who has used the "well, we have to go through childbirth" line to win an argument with a man may soon be set to eat her words.

Because according to leading doctors, male pregnancy could become a reality in just five years' time.

That's right, men and transgender women could theoretically receive a uterus, carry a baby to term, and give birth in the next decade thanks to recent medical advancements in reproductive transplant surgery.

"My guess is five, 10 years away, maybe sooner," Dr Karine Chung, director of the fertility preservation program at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, told Yahoo Health.

Traditionally the lack of an environment in which to house a foetus had prevented men from carrying their own children, but modern medicine is developing fast.

"Today, medical advances let transgender women adjust their biochemistry to suppress male and introduce female hormones, have breasts that can lactate, and obtain surgically constructed vaginas that include a 'neoclitoris', which allows sensation," says Chung.

The issue was sparked by last week's announcement that the Cleveland Clinic has started to perform the first uterus transplants in the US on women either born without one or who suffer complications.

While the surgery is "still considered highly experimental" according to Cleveland Clinic doctor Tommaso Falcone, a Swedish research team from the University of Gothenberg has performed nine uterus transplants to date, achieving five pregnancies and four live births.

"The exciting work from the investigators in Sweden demonstrated that uterine transplantation can result in the successful delivery of healthy infants," says Cleveland Clinic lead investigator Andreas Tzakis.

While the surgery is still both tricky and dangerous, the benefits may outweigh the risks for many women and, going forward, men or transgender women.

"I'd bet just about every transgender person who is female will want to do it, if it were covered by insurance," Dr Christine McGinn, a US plastic surgeon who performs transgender surgeries on men and women, told Yahoo.

There are still obstacles that block the path toward male pregnancy, such as a lack of pelvic ligaments designed to support a uterus, a cervix, and the issue of transferring an embryo into a transplanted womb without a vagina. However that does not mean such things cannot be created.

"Male and female anatomy is not that different," says Chung. "Probably at some point, somebody will figure out how to make that work."

 - Stuff