WTF? Can Sex Cure Morning Sickness?
Posted by Katie Ostoich on July 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM
Never having been pregnant myself, I can’t really comment on the various side effects that come with growing a tiny human. I mean, I’ve read about them and heard other women discussing. It seems like there’s some back pain, maybe some accidental peeing in your pants, and then what leaves mental scars surely, possibly pooping on the table in front of your husband and doctors. Shudder. But what is probably the worst of all is the months and months of food aversions and clutching the toilet known as morning sickness.
This term for the nausea and vomiting accompanying pregnancy is something of a misnomer, actually, since such gastrointestinal issues certainly aren’t limited to the morning hours. Rather, for those women who do get green around the gills (and not all do) sudden bouts of toilet-hugging can happen morning, noon and night. And though this is certainly unpleasant, there’s probably a good reason for all the puke. Not only does nausea and vomiting protect the developing embryo from toxins from the food we eat, these responses may also protect us. Our immunological defenses are lowered during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, which allows us to accommodate the half-foreign genome of the lovely little beast incubating. If our immune systems operated at full speed, it might reject the fetus. By avoiding certain foods, we simultaneously decreases the risk of her offspring’s exposure to bacteria and toxins while protecting ourselves from those toxins and parasites that we are in no shape to fight. Make sense?
One scientist has begun poking holes in this theory and piecing together an alternative is SUNY-Albany psychologist Gordon Gallup. And he is definitely out there. Gallup claims that even the best evidence of categorical food aversions in early pregnancy is not, in fact, as compelling as it’s usually made out to be. “Diet may only be a small part of the picture,” he has said.
So what does Gallup say is the real culprit behind nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy? Semen. More specifically, unfamiliar semen. To understand where he’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. (Just like organ transplant recipients can reject a new organ.) 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. Of course.
The more exposure a woman has to her partner’s semen -- that is to say, the more often she’s inseminated prior to conception and during the early stages of the pregnancy -- the more tolerance her body develops to his genetic material. This tolerance generalizes to a tolerance for the fetus -- and subsequently allows her to feel less like an infected zombie with serious stomach troubles.
So skip the Pepto and get it on? That’s what Gallup says.
Our verdict: WTF? As with all nutty sounding theories, it’s not really been tested. Would it mean that women who got pregnant through in vitro fertilization would be much more likely to puke than say, Catholic women who don’t use any barrier or hormonal contraception (condoms or pills)? It is true that some women get very sick and some don’t at all, so who knows!
Who would've thought that the the oldest boyfriend joke in the book ("Headache? I've got a cure for that in my pants."
What do you think? All the moms out there: What do you think about this new theory?