Some researchers have argued that preeclampsia is in part shaped by a woman's immunological tolerance of the father's genes in utero: Less tolerance implies greater likelihood of developing preeclampsia (see Koelman et al., 2000 and relevant references therein for additional details regarding the findings discussed here; see also Einarsson et al., 2003). Women can develop greater tolerance via increased exposure to their partner's antigens prior to conception. One of the ways is non-sexual, namely if a woman has received a blood transfusion from her male partner. The others are sexual in nature as they are instantiated via the extent to which a woman has been exposed to her partner's sperm in one of two obvious ways: (1) the greater the number of times that the couple has had unprotected sex prior to conception; (2) the extent to which the couple has engaged in oral sex resulting in the oral ingestion of sperm. Apparently, some consummatory acts result in a win-win outcome for all parties involved. Now that's some healthy living!
During a recent phone chat, one of my graduate students advised me of a fascinating finding, which I thought I would share today with my PT readers. We were discussing preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related condition wherein women develop high blood pressure as well as an increased density of proteins in their urine. While discussing predisposing factors, I was surprised to find out from my student that the extent to which a woman has been exposed to her partner's sperm affects the likelihood of her developing preeclampsia. Intrigued, I decided to conduct a literature search, and indeed found evidence for the effect in question.