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Two fertility treatments of no benefit

8th August 2008

A study has suggested that two common treatments for fertility do not work any better than trying to get pregnant naturally.

pregnancy

The research, led by the University of Aberdeen, indicated that the drug clomid and artificial insemination for couples who have trouble conceiving despite no known cause for their infertility, do not work.

The study, which is published in the British Medical Journal, focussed on 580 women in Scotland in line with the options listed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which include up to six cycles of unstimulated intrauterine insemination and use of clomid, a drug which stimulates the ovaries.

While the treatments have been offered for some time, this is the first rigorous testing of their effectiveness.

Oxford University scientists also took part in the six-month project along with Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary and Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Overall, 101 women became pregnant and of those trying to conceive naturally 17% became pregnant. For clomid, the birth rate was 14% and 23% for insemination. Up to 20% of women taking drugs experienced side effects.

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, who led the study, said the findings challenge current practice but send a "positive message" that the chances of success spontaneously are convincing.

In a separate article, researchers from the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, said because of the lack of evidence, many couples with unexplained infertility endure expensive, potentially hazardous, and often unnecessary treatments.

 

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