Swedish scientists say womb transplants for women with damaged or missing wombs may be possible within five years.

Mats Brannstrom of the department of gynecology at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, said uteruses removed and later restored in sheep have for the first time been shown to function normally, the London Telegraph reported.

If the operation can be perfected for humans, it could help thousands of women with Rokitansky syndrome — a rare congenital condition in which the uterus develops abnormally but the ovaries still function — Brannstrom said in a report to the annual meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology in Prague, the Czech Republic.

The breakthrough could offer the chance to conceive naturally to those who have suffered damage caused by cervical cancer or fibroids.