Current fertility research

Below you can read about our current projects.

Recent fertility research
Read about our recent fertility projects.

Fertility research publications
Read more about our fertility research publication.

 

Fertility research


Details of our ongoing research

Below you can read in a bit more detail about our current projects. Should you be interested in participating in any of our projects, or perhaps joining our Patient Research Advisory Board, which helps us focus on answering questions important to you, please contact us.

DHEA Trial

This research study aims to look at whether pregnancy rates are improved after IVF in poor responders when given dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a naturally occurring hormone that is thought to increase the number of eggs produced by these women when given before and during their IVF treatment. It will also look at the number of eggs they produce, the quality of their embryos as well as how many of their pregnancies result in a live birth or miscarriage.
 
One factor that determines the success of IVF is how many eggs are produced, as this will affect how many embryos are created. Some women tend either not to respond to the drugs that cause egg production during IVF or produce very few eggs and are termed poor responders.
 
Women who meet an internationally agreed consensus definition of poor responders who are having IVF at our centre and agree to take part in the study can participate. The women will have any two of the following:

1. Advanced maternal age (≥40 years) or any other risk factor for poor ovarian response (POR)
2. Previous poor ovarian response
3. An abnormal ovarian reserve test
 
Two groups of poor responders going through IVF (200 in each group) will be studied. One group will be given 75 mg DHEA daily and the other a placebo (dummy tablet) to take for 10 weeks before their IVF. Patients will be assigned to the groups at random and neither they nor the researchers will know which medication they are taking. There will be no change to their IVF treatment. We will follow their treatment and compare the number of women in each group who get pregnant.
 
The main benefit of the study is to provide a definitive answer whether DHEA make a difference in IVF outcome in this group of women. If the claims about the effects of DHEA are true, then those in the group taking it, and in the broader context many poor responder women, will benefit by getting pregnant. If the claims are not proven then again many poor responder women will be spared the financial and emotional cost of using an ineffective drug. As far as we can tell from our reading, DHEA is safe at the dose and duration that we will be using it. Several women have used it with no reported significant risk.
 
For more information on this study please contact Sue Wellstead or Teresa Gubbins on 023 8120 6856 or susan.wellstead@uhs.nhs.uk / teresa.gubbins@uhs.nhs.uk.

E-freeze

E-Freeze

Patients at Complete Fertility are currently being asked to take part in a research study to find out which method of embryo transfer results in a higher healthy baby rate. IVF involves hormone injections to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to produce eggs which are then removed by a minor operation and mixed with sperm to create embryos in the laboratory. Usually these embryos are replaced within the uterus in 3 to 5 days. This is called fresh embryo transfer. Any remaining embryos are usually frozen so that they can be thawed and transferred at a later date if required – a process known as thawed frozen embryo transfer. Both forms of embryo transfer are commonly used as part of routine IVF treatment.

There have been some small studies, which suggest that using thawed frozen embryos may lead to improved pregnancy rates. This is because when frozen embryos are used, there is a delay in embryo transfer of between one and three months, allowing the excess of hormones of ovarian stimulation to wear off, giving the uterus time to return to its natural state. Only a few, small studies have been done so we don’t know which procedure is better. The E-Freeze study will compare these two procedures of embryo transfer in 1086 couples from IVF centres throughout the UK.

For more information on this study please contact Sue Wellstead or Teresa Gubbins on 023 8120 6856 or susan.wellstead@uhs.nhs.uk / teresa.gubbins@uhs.nhs.uk.