Science found cures for polio, smallpox and tuberculosis. Now science is growing vaginas.
Scientists announced on Thursday that four women received lab-grown vaginas between 2005 and 2008 — and, according to their doctors, all the women are doing quite well with their new man-made cooters. So well in fact, that they’re able to “experience sexual desire, pain-free sex, and even reach orgasm.”
Via The Verge:
The women, who were between 13 and 18 at the time of the surgery, were all born with a rare genetic condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH) — a condition that causes about one in 4,500 girls to be born with either an underdeveloped or absent vagina and uterus.
The vaginal organs themselves were generated using a combination of cells — epithelial cells that line body cavities, as well as muscle cells — biopsied from the women’s genital areas. Anthony Atala, a urologist at Wake Forest University who conducted the trials, said in a video interview that his team took “a very small piece of tissue from the patient, less than half the size of a postage stamp, and we then teased the cells apart and grew the cells separately.” The cells were then expanded and sewn onto a biodegradable scaffold that the researchers had previously shaped into a vagina tailored to each patient. Six weeks later, the women underwent surgery.
To implant the lab-grown vaginas, surgeons first had to create a canal in the women’s pelvic areas. The surgeons then sutured the biodegradable scaffold to the patients’ already existing reproductive structures. In the weeks following the operation, the women’s nerves and blood vessels gradually expanded and started integrating themselves into the engineered tissue. As this was happening, the women’s bodies were slowly absorbing the scaffolding. By the time the scaffolding had completely disappeared, it was no longer needed — the cells had laid down their own permanent support structure.
The women obviously aren’t capable of bearing children. Still though…