Study examines the emotional reactions of women who had Uterine transplants

After a uterine transplant the drastic change in the way you live your life can make you feel unreal. A study by University of Gothenburg researchers describes the emotional reactions of women who have undergone something that was unimaginable less than ten years ago.

This study of women’s experiences with motherhood after uterus transplantation is being published in the journal of science Human Reproduction. The first author is Stina Jarvholm, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Gothenburg and a clinical psychologist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Jarvholm is part of the uterus transplantation group which has gained international attention due to its medical advances. They also have a reputation for their research and publications regarding the psychological effects of transplantation on recipients, donors and their partners.

Seven women were included in the present study who either did not have a uterus or needed to remove it surgically. The seven women had all lived in the belief that they would never become birth parents. They were just 29 when they had a uterus transplant in 2013.

Based on interviews with women from up to 2018, the results show that they experienced their situation in a variety of ways similar to other mothers. Becoming a mother felt both exciting and challenging and relationships between couples were put to the test.

Anxiety and sense of surveillance

The women also had concerns about the actual procedure. There were fears of the baby being adversely affected during the pregnancy, and some believed that the pregnancy wasn’t theirs, given the extensive medical supervision they were under.

One woman said in an interview that she wondered whether she would love her child differently because of the fact that it was born as it was. Another woman laughed a little when she reminisced about how often while out shopping with her child, she would think, “What have I done?” “What if my friends and family knew?”

Psychologically, becoming a mother after a uterus transplant seems to be a mix of feeling exactly like everyone other woman and, at the same at the same time, struggling with a sense of unreality.”

Stina Jarvholm

In 2013, the first systematic, science-based research project in this area involved the transplantation of uterus organs from living donors. It was conducted by Mats Brannstrom who is the University of Gothenburg Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sahlgrenska Academy and Chief Physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Following the birth of the first Gothenburg baby, seven more were followed by a second birth before an outside woman in Sweden gave way to a child through the transplant of a uterus. Twelve babies have been born in the Swedish research project so far. The total global number is about 40.

Improved support in trying situations

Jarvholm emphasizes that transplanting the uterus is a sophisticated form of infertility treatment that extends over many years and includes parties, recipients and donors alike.

“The findings allow us to offer psychological assistance during times when women are under extra strain — for instance, they’re repeatedly attempting to get pregnant without success or experiencing miscarriages, and for those who need to quit the project and not become parents as they had imagined,” Jarvholm says.

“The knowledge we’ve gained is also useful for people who interact with these women when they’re pregnant. It allows them to offer assistance based on women’s specific needs, and to understand that what was once impossible is now becoming feasible.” she concludes.

Journal reference:

Jarvholm S., and al. (2021). Striving to become a mother following uterus transplantation A qualitative study on attempts to conceive and the first year of motherhood following transplantation. Human Reproduction.

Content Source:

Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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