Hormone treatment shows promise for couples with unexplained infertility – study

Hormone treatment offers hope for couples with unexplained infertility (Katie Collins/PA)
Hormone treatment offers hope for couples with unexplained infertility (Katie Collins/PA) Hormone treatment offers hope for couples with unexplained infertility (Katie Collins/PA)

A hormone treatment could help increase the likelihood of a couple experiencing unexplained infertility having a baby, research suggests.

The study compared couples trying to conceive naturally with couples where the woman used a vaginal progesterone treatment during the second half of her menstrual cycle.

It found that among the women treated with progesterone, 11 out of 72 (15.3%) had babies.

Among those who were not treated, five out of 71 (7.0%) had babies.

Although the birth rate was more than doubled with treatment, researchers say the small numbers mean that this could have happened by chance.

The researchers suggest that if a larger trial has similar results, the treatment could ultimately benefit many people living with infertility around the world.

The study was presented at annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) by Dr Claudia Raperport, a researcher at Queen Mary University of London.

It included 143 couples who had unexplained infertility, a diagnosis that affects around one third of couples referred to fertility services.

Dr Raperport said: “The cost of progesterone is minimal compared to the cost of IVF and other fertility treatments.

“It also carries far less clinical risk, and physical and emotional burden for the couples involved.

“We need to do further research to prove these results in a larger group of people, but this trial suggests a potential treatment for couples with unexplained fertility.

“Given its safety and low price, there is no harm in offering this treatment in the meantime.”

All of the women in the study used ovulation test kits to plan intercourse for three menstrual cycles.

Half of them were given treatment of 400 milligrams of progesterone via a twice-daily vaginal suppository for 14 days.

Experts say vaginal progesterone has been safely used for more than 30 years with minimal side effects alongside other fertility treatments such as IVF.

The cost for three months of treatment would be around 200 Euros (£171) or less.

The chair of ESHRE, Professor Carlos Calhaz-Jorge from the Northern Lisbon Hospital Centre and the Hospital de Santa Maria in Lisbon (Portugal), who was not involved in this research, said: “This study indicates that progesterone could also be used from the time a woman ovulates to help a fertilised egg implant in the womb in cases of unexplained infertility.

“If it is proven in a larger study, this treatment could reduce miscarriage and increase the chances of having a baby for those couples with unexplained infertility.”