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Let's Talk About Sex #4: Recycled Placentas?

Students have lots of questions about pregnancy - how everything works, what it feels like, and how much weight a woman gains. While they have heard of placentas, few know much about them. You can imagine their surprise when I bring in one of my placentas for show & tell (yep, I saved them). While a handful of students are usually disgusted, the majority of them appreciate seeing what a placenta actually looks like. Today's question is about the placenta, so let's get right to it!

I would never have guessed anyone would think placentas could be used over and over. But as I thought more about it, I can see why they might. Many students don't know that placenta "expulsion" begins shortly after a fetus is delivered when the structure begins to separate from the uterine wall. This usually happens about 15-30 minutes after the birth of a baby. Usually it is quickly removed is disposed of (unless you're like me and you bring a cooler to take it home with you). But it's a "one & done" structure!

FYI: There has recently been some buzz about placentophagy, or eating the placenta. The placenta is infused with vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and reproductive hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. Levels of these reproductive hormones drop off drastically after a woman gives birth and some believe that this may contribute to postpartum depression (PPD). While there is some controversy about whether or not placentophagy is effective, I'd urge you to do some research and talk to medical professionals if it's something you'd be interested in. If you decide you don't want to eat it, just get yourself some formaldehyde and BAM - you've got a brand new bookend!

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