Trans women could get pregnant as soon as “tomorrow” thanks to developments in womb transplantation, according to one of the world’s leading fertility professors.
The success of womb transplants in women means that the science is now available to allow similar operations to be carried out on those who began life as men, Dr Richard Paulson, outgoing president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine says.
He added that people who have undergone gender reassignment surgery may want to take advantage and consider the possibility of a womb transplant which would allow them to carry a baby.
Speaking at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, Dr Paulson explained that there was no anatomical reason why a womb could not be successfully implanted into a transgender woman.
“You could do it tomorrow,” he said. “There would be additional challenges, but I don’t see any obvious problem that would preclude it ... I personally suspect there are going to be trans women who are going to want to have a uterus and will likely get the transplant.”
He added that while people born as men and those born as women have different shaped pelvises there would nevertheless be room for an implanted womb.
However, the procedure would be extremely complicated and it’s likely that transgender women would have to give birth by caesarean section. In addition, hormones might have to be given to replicate the changes that occur while a woman is pregnant.
Despite advances, womb transplant is still very much an experimental procedure, with British experts warning that initiating a pregnancy in a transgender woman may be unethical as it could pose “significant” risk to the foetus.
While there may be a “psychological benefit” to the mother carrying her own baby, this had to be “weighed against any psychological harm to the child being born in this atypical way”, said Julian Savulescu, professor of practical ethics at Oxford University.
Since 2014 at least five babies have been born to women who had received wombs in Sweden, while the first British attempt is to be carried out next year by Dr Richard Smith of Imperial College London.
As it stands, it would be illegal for an IVF clinic in the UK to create an embryo for the purpose of implanting it in a trans woman (or indeed a man), under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.
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