Kim Kardashian and hubby Kanye West are three months pregnant – through a surrogate - according to several reports. Kim has openly discussed that she wants more kids despite her previous high-risk pregnancies. She even visited a fertility specialist on her show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, who told her surrogacy was a reasonable option to grow her family.
Using a surrogate isn’t the only way people have tried to conceive new life throughout the ages. According to Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein, author of GET ME OUT: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank, there were some crazy (and pretty ineffective) ways to try to conceive back in the Middle Ages.
“Ancient Greek physician Soranus advised men on how to pick a fertile woman: she should be cheerful, not too flabby or mannish, digest food easily, and not have chronic diarrhea,” Dr. Randi shares (a lot to find out on a first date).
Hippocrates had this fertility test for a woman: “put a scented cloth over the vagina. If the same scent came out her nose, she was infertile. It was as women were just filled with baby making stuff and if the smell went in one end and came out the other, it suggested she was barren inside.”
An ancient remedy for upping the odds of having a boy was that “the prospective dad should drink a cocktail of red wine tainted with rabbit’s womb while the potential mom should drink red wine with rabbit’s testicles,” Dr. Randi says.
One fertility method used by France’s Queen Catherine De Medici tried when she had some problems in the 16th century? “A folk healer told her to drink mare’s urine. He also told her to soak her ‘source of life’ (the vagina?) in a sack of cow manure mixed with ground stag’s antlers,” Dr. Randi shares.
"In the middle ages, the thinking was that couples had to have simultaneous orgasms in order to conceive,” Dr. Randi reveals. “That’s certainly not dangerous and can make the whole process a lot more fun, but it’s not necessary. And I have to image it led to a lot of stress, which had to hinder getting an orgasm at the same time as your partner.” They also suggested you stare at beautiful things to have beautiful babies.
Lucky for us, times have changed. These are some of the newest ways to try to bring life into the world.
“We now do something called ICSI which stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm injection. Doctors choose a sperm and inject it into the egg. This helps the sluggish sperm or the one who can’t do it on its own,” Dr. Randi explains. Here’s the fascinating part: “You have to whack the sperm to slow it down before you shove it in an egg, which makes sense when you picture a batch of speedy little squirming sperm. So you have to tap it enough to make it slow and easy-to-manipulate but you can’t bang it too hard because you’ll kill it.”
Freezing eggs of fertile women has grown in popularity. “It’s sold (expensively) to women in their twenties who are worried they may not find the right man until they are too old - eggs age.” Dr. Randi does caution, “If you go the freezing route, there is no guarantee your eggs will survive the thaw and then you have to go through the whole test-tube baby procedure.”
The controversial “three-parent baby” is also on the rise. “It means that you use the egg from one woman, the sperm from a man. But if the woman has an egg with potentially damaged mitochondria, the battery pack of the egg, you can take it out and replace it with mitochondria from a healthy person,” Dr. Randi explains. “I loathe that term. The fact that you are getting DNA from another person —which prevents deadly diseases—to be dubbed ‘three parent babies,’ and I think it takes a lot more to being a parent than being mitochondria. Ask any parent!”
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