Science watchers are buzzing about the newest frontier in reproductive technology: uterine transplants. The goal is to allow women born without a uterus, or those who have had theirs removed or have one that doesn’t function properly, to carry their own pregnancies. But the controversial procedure is still in the early experimental stages, experts warn, and comes with serious downsides.
Uterine transplants involve at least two surgeries and transplant rejection medications, as well as in vitro fertilization, explains Taraneh Shirazian, MD, a gynecologic surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center. "The multiple surgeries also leave the patient vulnerable to complications," she adds—like bladder or bowel damage or infection. (The first uterine transplant in the U.S., performed last winter by the Cleveland Clinic, reportedly failed due to a yeast infection.)
Why try? “Many women want to experience pregnancy,” says Lisa Campo-Engelstein, PhD, professor of reproductive ethics at Albany Medical College. "They want to feel what it’s like to give birth to their own genetically related child."