16/04/2024
Superfetation

The happiness of becoming pregnant is a deeply rewarding experience for many people. It can trigger a range of positive emotions, such as joy, gratitude, and a renewed sense of purpose. However, when faced with a multiple pregnancy, a certain degree of concern on the part of the parents and family is understandable. Discover in the following article what Superfetation is.

Twin, triplet, or other forms of multiple pregnancies carry an increased risk of medical complications, such as preterm delivery, growth restriction, and other associated conditions. They may also require increased medical attention and monitoring during pregnancy and childbirth. But there is another form of pregnancy that, although it has occurred on very few occasions, continues to impress us. It is called superfetation.

Superfetation is a rare biological phenomenon that occurs in certain species, including mammals, and refers to the fertilization and development of a second egg in an already pregnant female. It is commonly observed in animals such as rabbits, rodents and horses; there have been some documented cases in humans, although extremely rare.

In most mammals, the natural process of ovulation stops once the female becomes pregnant. However, in cases of superfetation, the reproductive cycle continues after conception has taken place, leading to the fertilization and development of a second egg, resulting in two embryos of different gestational ages in the uterus.

Normally, after fertilization, changes occur in the female genital tract that prevent new ovulation from occurring. Estradiol and LH levels drop sharply, which prevents other follicles from continuing to develop. In addition, progesterone levels increase, which leads to cervical mucus becoming thicker and forming a plug at the cervical os. With this, the female body blocks the passage of other sperm.

There are two possibilities:

1. A new ovulation occurs between two and three days after the fertilization of the first egg and since the sperm has a life of 72 hours, it can be fertilized, two pregnancies occurring three days apart between each one with a single sexual relationship.

2. In another case, when the mechanisms that prevent a new ovulation fail, a second egg is released and fertilized by sperm from the same or another parent. It usually occurs two or three weeks apart. Thus, a multiple pregnancy can occur with different gestational ages and different parents.

The existence of human superfetation has been the subject of debate among the medical community, and its occurrence is extremely rare. However, confirmed cases of superfetation have been documented in the medical literature. It is important to note that superfetation in humans poses unique challenges in terms of monitoring fetal development, as the two fetuses may be at different stages of maturation.

In the animal kingdom, superfetation can be advantageous in terms of maximizing reproductive efficiency. For example, in species such as rabbits, where gestation is short and predators are a constant threat, the ability to conceive again during pregnancy may allow for more efficient reproduction.

In summary, superfetation is a fascinating biological phenomenon that challenges our conventional understanding of the reproductive process. Although it is extremely rare in humans, its study in other species can provide valuable information about the diversity of reproductive strategies in the animal kingdom and shed light on the biological mechanisms that regulate fertility and embryonic development.

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