Research reveals infertile couples might finally be able to have kids, thanks to a 100-year-old technique

Image by Srushti Fertility Centre

Adelaide, Australia  –  Infertile couples now have a major opportunity to achieve a successful pregnancy without the need to IVF; thanks to this 100-year technique for inducing pregnancies.

IVF, or In Vitro Fertilization, is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus.

Professor Ben Mol’s mother told him that a 100-year-old medical technique had cured her infertility; leading to his birth. The scientist was, naturally, curious.

Since 1917 doctors have performed a technique in which they inject a special dye into women’s tubes which can be picked up on X-Rays, to help diagnose fertility problems.

But although the procedure is supposed to be entirely diagnostic, over the past century, many women have claimed it actually helped them become pregnant.

Now Professor Mol of the University of Adelaide has shown that it is probably true; in a study which could help hundreds of thousands of women avoid the need for IVF.

This new study tested the effects of an old medical treatment for increasing women’s fertility. The treatment, which involves flushing the Fallopian tubes with a poppy seed oil revealed surprisingly positive results.

The experiment was conducted across 27 medical centers in the Netherlands and Australia with 1,119 infertile women. Half of the women were given water-based solutions to use on their systems, while the other half was given the oil-based solution. Scientists found that 40% of women who underwent the oil-based procedure became pregnant within the first six months of treatment, as opposed to only 29% in the water-based group.

“Our results have been even more exciting than we could have predicted, helping to confirm that an age-old medical technique still has an important place in modern medicine,” said Prof Mol.

“Over the past century, pregnancy rates among infertile women reportedly increased after their tubes had been flushed with either water or oil during this X-ray procedure.”

Dr Channa Jayasena, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Reproductive Endocrinology and Andrology at Imperial College said: “It has long been speculated that flushing the fallopian tubes might clear blockages to the passage of eggs to the womb.”

The team is hoping to conduct more research into how the procedure works, but say it is already a safe treatment which should be offered immediately to women to help improve their chances of conceiving before IVF.