No amount of heavy duty feminism can alleviate the fact that when it comes to child creation, all a guy really must do is not ride a bike too much, ejaculate successfully into a fertile vagina, and then maybe hand out cigars. Meanwhile, the woman spends nine months growing a tiny, helpless proto-human inside her fucking body, accidentally peeing herself and throwing up and ultimately possibly pooping on the delivery table in front of a bunch of doctors. Babymaking is horribly lopsided. And now, thanks to one scientist's "semen cures morning sickness" theory, pregnancy may become even more of a chore for ladies and a frolic through the ice cream aisle for men.
Slate's Jesse Bering traces the barfy and baffling history of morning sickness, of doctors and researchers trying to figure out why pregnant ladies just can't keep food down sometimes, and how to stop it. Some doctors think it's caused by a woman's body attempting to avoid pathogens; during pregnancy, a woman's body views the fetus as a foreign object, and, as such, her immune system is turned down a bit so that her body doesn't attack the pregnancy. But while her immune system is in "save baby" mode, her body is more susceptible to food borne illness. Ergo, vomit in the morning. Vomit in the evening. Vomit at supper time. When you're expecting a baby you can vomit all the time.
One academic thinks this theory doesn't quite stand up to muster and has proposed a solution for women suffering from morning sickness: jizz. Loads and loads of jizz.
Gordon Gallup, a SUNY-Albany psychologist, theorizes that morning sickness isn't an aversion to food; it's a response to the body's immune system thinking it's sick on account of the fact that there's a baby made of half strange genetic material growing inside of it. It's the same sort of "get it out of me BLEARGH" response triggered by a night of excessive drinking; by morning, there's probably not much more alcohol in your stomach, but even though your body can sweat excessively, it can't barf out of its pores. Expelling the contents of one's stomach is a way for the body to empty what can be emptied. Bering explains,
To understand where [Gallup's] coming from, we need to think back to the maternal immune system's response to the fetus. Because half of the DNA the fetus is carrying comes from the father, the mother's body may initially treat the organism as foreign tissue or an infection. This response, Gallup says, triggers an immune reaction that is commonly experienced as nausea, vomiting, and malaise (aka morning sickness). The best cure for this type of sickness, says Gallup, is, strangely enough, the same thing as its cause.
And the next part is where, Gallup thinks that since the baby is theoretically comprised of a woman and her partner's genetic material, the way for a woman to stop vomiting in response to a foreign object is to make the object less foreign. How's she supposed to do that? By slathering herself in her child's father's semen — or by having tons of sex with her partner before and during her pregnancy. All kinds of sex!
But, according to Gallup's theory, if the cure for morning sickness is exposure to the father's genetic material, the cause of morning sickness is "foreign semen." Writes Bering,
This is because conception and childbirth historically meant that a woman foreclosed on any other reproductive opportunities for 2 to 4 years, so pregnancies in which paternal investment was improbable would have meant an enormous gamble. Today, however, technological innovations such as barrier contraceptives (condoms reduce a woman's exposure to semen that would otherwise become familiar) and artificial insemination mimic some ancestral conditions. The maternal immune system has no way to distinguish between, say, conception by in vitro fertilization and rape.
Like many nutty sounding theories, this one's completely untested. But if it were medical fact that lots of familiar semen exposure will cure morning sickness and a lack of prior exposure to the semen will cause morning sickness, then mothers who become pregnant via artificial insemination should theoretically be more likely to experience morning sickness. And devout, practicing Catholic women who don't use any barrier or hormonal contraception should theoretically have morning sickness very rarely.
Who would've thought that the the oldest boyfriend joke in the book ("Headache? I've got a cure for that in my pants." "Feeling overwhelmed by ennui? Know what's good for that? Dick." And everyone laughs and laughs and laughs.) would actually translate to actual medical advice.
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