The Surprising Benefits of Sperm During Pregnancy
You might know some of the advantages of pregnancy sex: lowered blood pressure, improved sleep, increased intimacy with your partner. But did you know that sperm itself might have benefits for pregnant women? While many of these claims need more research, here’s why introducing sperm into your birth canal might not be such a bad idea.
A high-risk pregnancy condition, preeclampsia is defined by elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine. It occurs in 5 to 8 percent of all pregnancies, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation, and it can cause complications like a low birth weight baby, placental abruption, preterm delivery, kidney failure, and maternal and/or fetal death.
Researchers in Denmark released a 2017 study linking sperm and preeclampsia. In summary, women with greater exposure to the father’s sperm before conception had a lower risk of developing preeclampsia. Those with six months or less of exposure to the father's sperm had a higher instance of the condition. One possible reason: sperm contains a protein, HLA-G, that improves the maternal immune system. More exposure to the paternal cells in this protein help women create “immunity” against preeclampsia, so to speak.
Along those lines, research from 2000 published in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology showed that swallowing sperm is linked to a decreased preeclampsia risk. More research is needed to confirm these theories, however.
Morning Sickness Cure
According to one SUNY-Albany psychologist, Gordon Gallup, increased sperm exposure could cure your debilitating morning sickness. Gallup’s theory states that a pregnant woman’s body rejects paternal cells in the fetus as a foreign substance, according to Slate. The body tries to expel this unfamiliar genetic material through nausea and vomiting.
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If this theory holds, the cure for morning sickness may be exposing yourself to sperm through either vaginal sex or oral sex. This would help your body develop a “tolerance” to paternal DNA, thus decreasing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The exposure should ideally happen before conception and throughout the first few weeks of pregnancy. Of course, more information is needed to prove Gallup’s theory, so take this with a grain of salt.
If a woman is overdue, some experts say that having sex could possibly bring on labor, says Jimmy Belotte, an Ob-Gyn in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women's Health at Montefiore Health System, and an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women's Health and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Part of the reason is that orgasms mimic uterine contractions, and sex releases a hormone that’s associated with labor (oxytocin).
But sperm might play a role, too. Semen contains a hormone-like substance called prostaglandins, which is capable of ripening the cervix, says Dr. Belotte. In fact, a synthetic form of prostaglandins are also used in labor induction medications like misoprostol.
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