The artificial uterus: on the way to ectogenesis

Zygote. 2023 Oct;31(5):457-467. doi: 10.1017/S0967199423000175. Epub 2023 Jun 26.


The inability to support the growth and development of a mature fetus up to delivery results in significant human suffering. Current available solutions include adoption, surrogacy, and uterus transplantation. However, these options are subject to several ethical, religious, economic, social, and medical concerns. Ectogenesis is the process in which an embryo develops in an artificial uterus from implantation through to the delivery of a live infant. This current narrative review summarizes the state of recent research focused on human ectogenesis. First, a literature search was performed to identify published reports of previous experiments and devices used for embryo implantation in an extracorporeally perfused human uterus. Furthermore, studies fitting that aim were selected and critically evaluated. Results were synthesized, interpreted, and used to design a prospective strategy for future research. Therefore, this study suggests that full ectogenesis might be obtained using a computer-controlled system with extracorporeal blood perfusion provided by a digitally controlled heart-lung-kidney system. From a clinical perspective, patients who will derive significant benefits from this technology are mainly those women diagnosed with anatomical abnormalities of the uterus and those who have undergone previous hysterectomies, numerous abortions, and experienced premature birth. Ectogenesis is the complete development of an embryo in an artificial uterus. It represents the solutions for millions of women suffering from premature deliveries, and the inability to supply growth and development of embryos/fetuses in the womb. In the future, ectogenesis might replace uterine transplantation and surrogacy.

Keywords: artificial uterus; ectogenesis; ectogestation; recurrent preterm birth; uterine anatomical abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ectogenesis*
  • Embryo Implantation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterus* / transplantation