Is it possible to get pregnant without a sperm?

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A billion dollar question! What with cloning and different techniques in Biotechnology? A recent article with a headline “We can create babies without men, claim scientists” in Mail Online November 15th 2015 raises eyebrows about Scientists playing God!

What one would think occurs naturally for eons in a time tested method has suddenly been overruled by a statement that is both overwhelming and scary leading to even skepticism!

The discovery of this new process of reproduction was made by researchers from the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Genetics in Los Angeles. An accidental finding like the penicillin, their focus of research was on transplantation of nerve cells from genetically modified embryos in to the brain of Parkinson’s patients. Their experiments in mice accidently triggered a form of asexual reproduction, parthenogenesis seen only in insects and frog till date.

So, have fertility experts found a way for women to have babies without Men? What are the consequences? Will this be called fertilization? Will these babies be as normal as the ones that are born through normal fertilization?

We still do not know. For us to understand the difference let us have a quick run through of a normal pregnancy. Fertilization is the process by which the ova (egg) and the sperm fuse together and in the process, there is a combination of the genes from the egg and the sperm giving way to a new life. At this moment, the genetic makeup of the fertilized egg is complete including the sex of the embryo determined by the X or Y chromosome from the sperm. This fertilized egg divides, goes through different stages of development, until it finally goes to form a baby over a period of nine months.

Research on pregnancy without a sperm involves a cocktail of chemicals that act as an artificial sperm and trick the egg to form an embryo.

From all experiments that have been carried out so far, scientists have been able to come to the conclusion that the egg definitely does require chemicals to fertilize it. While in the near future it may be possible that these chemicals may substitute for a sperm, it does not completely rule out the fact that it is the chemicals contained within the sperm that result in the growth of a fetus.

Science hasn’t yet evolved to the levels of fertilizing an egg without a sperm. It has however brought about techniques that have been deemed impossible in the past.

Modern techniques such as cryogenics have been extended to methods of preservation of sperms. These prove to be a major advantage for women who are unable to conceive. To think we once thought the life span of the sperm was only five days when outside the human body. An impeccable advancement indeed!

In other news, there have been stories circulating about a woman who got pregnant just by eating an egg yolk! There has also been much talk about a particular incident of a woman who got pregnant by a pig!

How legitimate are the facts behind these stories? Well, that’s one question that has left all scientists and researchers in a fix. While some believe that it might be possible, the skeptics often disagree.

So does this mean the sperm is necessary for impregnation? As of now, yes, it is. It is possible however, for it to be otherwise. Science as we know it is one field that provides the capabilities of disproving what we believe we understand truly well. Till this theory is disproved, it shall continue to be the one that is passed on from one generation to the next for every question along the lines of “how is a baby created?”

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