Can trans women get pregnant? Here’s everything you need to know about womb transplants

Can trans women get pregnant? The answer is… maybe, in the future, if all goes well.

A surgeon who carried out the UK’s first womb transplant on a cisgender woman has previously said similar transplants for trans women are probably about 10 to 20 years away. 

In February 2023, Imperial College London professor, James Smith, and his colleague, Isabel Quiroga, from the Oxford Transplant Centre, carried out a womb transplant on a married woman whose 40-year-old sister was willing to donate her own, having already given birth to two children. 

The 34-year-old recipient, who lives in England and wishes not to be named, received the transplant during an operation lasting more than nine hours at the Churchill Hospital, in Oxford.

It is hoped that, in the future, womb transplants can be performed on trans women, giving them the chance to get pregnant and have a baby, but Smith said the reality of this is still decades away.

There is currently no “technical feasibility” to perform the operation on trans women due to a difference in the pelvic and vascular anatomy, the shape of the pelvis and issues with the microbiome – the network of micro-organisms that live in the human body, he explained.

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According to the I newspaper, he said: “My own sense is if there are transgender transplants that are going to take place, they are many years off. There are an awful lot of steps to go through. My suspicion is a minimum of 10 to 20 years.”

The team who performed the surgery hailed it a massive success, with the recipient storing embryos in the hope of undergoing IVF later in 2023. 

A medical report, published in the Fertility and Sterility medical journal, in January 2023, said: “The first uterus transplant in a transgender female in the 21st century is anticipated to take place within the next few years, if not sooner.”

Dr Narendra Kaushik, a surgeon in the Indian capital New Dehli, said in May 2022 that transplanting uteruses into trans women is “the future”. 

Uterine transplants are currently rare, costly and experimental surgeries that typically rely on donor organs. They are often done on people born without a uterus so they can become pregnant and give birth.

The first successful womb transplant took place at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden in 2014. Two years later, the operation was carried successfully once more in the US.

About 50 babies have now been born worldwide as a result of womb transplants.

Kaushik, who has 15 years of experience in gender-affirming surgeries, said: “We cannot predict exactly when this will happen but it will happen soon. We have our plans and we are very optimistic.”

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