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Friday, November 12, 2010

Artificial Ovaries - Life Imitating Art?

In my novel, The Gender Divide, women live four times as long as men by shutting down menstruation. There are a number of ramifications of this but one of them is a dramatic decline in the birth rate, especially male birthrates. In order to compensate for this, I postulated an artificial embryogenesis machine that used artificial ova.

Now it appears that the first artificial ovary has been created.  The ova were created to

“…study how ovarian cells develop and interact… “

Now the method used isn’t exactly how I envisioned the process but then again, I had a different goal in mind when I ‘created’ artificial ova.

The hero of The Gender Divide, Ryan Peters, has been treated to have the same kind of extended life as women do but the formula for how to do this has been lost. Ryan poses as his own son in order to try and retrieve the formula and so one of the side effects of using artificial ova that I postulated was the lack of the nucleotides that determined hereditary characteristics. As a result, the men who use these artificial ova to have sons (they aren’t allowed to have daughters) that either closely resemble them or in some cases are even identical in appearance.

Of course this research is still in the early stages and relies on donated material as the starting point, something that wouldn’t be feasible in the world I envisioned. However it is exciting to see research in this area, particularly since

“…it could also be used clinically to bring immature eggs to term outside the bodies of women facing cancer treatments or other fertility-hindering treatments.”

posted by David at 1:32 pm  

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Male Birth Control Pill

When I first came across this article on the male birth control pill I wasn’t sure what to think of it.

Birth control is a tricky subject, even leaving aside any ethical or religious issues. Regardless of who is responsible for birth control, it is the woman who is the most impacted by a pregnancy.

She is the one who has to suffer the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortunes known as pregnancy and childbirth. Oft times she is accompanied and supported by a partner but in many cases she is all alone. Sometimes she is the one who is left to make that most difficult of all decisions regarding whether to allow the pregnancy to continue or not.

So it is hard to argue for a male birth control pill when it is the woman who is affected. Harder still to imagine a woman relinquishing control of her body to someone else. A condom is a tangible form of birth control, something that a woman will know if a man is using or not. A pill? Not so much.

Admittedly men are put in this position every day but the impact of a mistake or worse, a calculated deception, isn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very real consequences for men in situations like this but nothing like those faced by women.

So I can’t see this becoming casually common, not like the female birth control pill is. The consequences of a mistake, not the mention the risk of unprotected sex, are too great.

However there is a place for the male birth control for couples in a committed relationship.

The article states that during animal test (mice),

“…all their sex behavior was retained, which is a very important consideration for human men. A man who takes this pill could also be sexually active later on and have children.”

“Rather than undergo an irreversible vasectomy, a man could sterilize himself for short periods…

It also provides another option for Jewish couples.

“…it should be well received by religiously observant Jews. According to Jewish law, castration of any animal - human or non-human - is forbidden; not to mention that ’spilling seed’ or ejaculating outside the female body is not permitted. “

Despite it’s inherent limitations, it will be interesting to see what role this pill plays and how it affects the dynamics of a relationship.

posted by David at 12:01 am  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

DNA and Evolution

I recently read about a psychological study performed by researchers at Indiana University. The study tested …

“The ability to judge another individual’s romantic interest level”

The participants observed videos of men and women speed dating and attempted to gage the level of interest of each person based mostly on non-verbal clues. (more…)

posted by David at 11:46 pm  

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