New Danish research provides hope that women undergoing fertility treatment can avoid unpleasant hormonal gel by having their own body produce pregnancy hormones.
Since the early days of fertility treatment, women undergoing IVF treatment have had to place a hormonal gel in their vagina on a daily basis for at least 14 days after embryo transfer. The hormone is necessary to increase the chances of pregnancy, but it may also cause some side effects in the form of irritation and leaky discharge.
However, the results of a new scientific study suggest that women will be able to avoid this kind of discomfort in the future.
"Fertility treatment is a physical and mental challenge for childless couples. The daily treatment with hormonal gel after embryo transfer is the part of the treatment which many women find very unpleasant,'' says Peter Humaidan, professor at Aarhus University and the fertility clinic at Skive Regional Hospital, Denmark.
"In order to create a more patient friendly treatment, we have studied whether we can remove the usual hormonal vaginal gel and instead have the body itself produce the necessary hormones," he explains.
More natural treatment
Two test groups and one control group were examined in this randomized trial including one hundred women. The women in the control group had a standard care after the transfer of eggs including the vaginal hormonal gel, whereas the test groups only administered a small daily injection of the pregnancy stimulating hormone HCG over a two-week period.
''The results of the study show that the chances of becoming pregnant are equally good when comparing the two types of treatment given after the transfer of eggs; however, the study group who was treated with daily injections perceived this as considerably more patient friendly ," says Peter Humaidan.
He carried out the study with colleagues from the fertility clinic at the Regional Hospital of Central Denmark and the Laboratory of Reproductive Biology at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
The results were recently published in the recognised scientific journal Human Reproduction.
The first study in this area
The study is the first to show that the chances of conceiving are similar to those of the standard treatment, however, with the benefit of a reduction in hormones and a higher degree of patient friendliness
Peter Humaidan is in no doubt that the new method will be a relief for women undergoing fertility treatment:
"Even though injecting yourself can be associated with minor discomfort, the majority of women prefer doing this to the hormonal gel, which can be very discomforting. It is also, of course, an advantage that it is a more natural treatment that is generally gentler on the body. As an experienced fertility doctor I have no doubt that most women will find the injection method less intrusive and a significant improvement of their treatment," he says.