Infertile women could soon get pregnant without having to go through in vitro fertilisation (IVF), according to new research into a century-old procedure that is used to check the fallopian tubes.
The procedure called a hysterosalpingography (HSG) involves flushing a woman’s fallopian tubes with iodised poppy seed oil or a water-based solution, then putting the fallopian tubes under an X-ray.
Now researchers from the Netherlands and Australia have proven that the procedure has benefits for infertile women.
In the H2Oil study, the researchers flushed the fallopian tubes of 1,119 women with either an oil-based or water-based solution, to compare the benefits of flushing the tubes with either solution. Almost 40 per cent of infertile women whose tubes were flushed with the oil solution, and 29 per cent of infertile women whose tubes were flushed with the water solution got pregnant within six months of the procedure.
“The rates of successful pregnancy were significantly higher in the oil-based group, and after only one treatment.
“This is an important outcome for women who would have had no other course of action other than to seek IVF treatment. It offers new hope to infertile couples,” said Professor Mol, who led the study, and who was conceived after his mother went through such a procedure.
“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. Until now, it has been unclear whether the type of solution used in the procedure was influencing the change in fertility.” he added.
While the scientists recommend further research to establish the mechanisms behind the results of the procedure, they say that it could be beneficial for women “who don’t present with any other treatable fertility symptoms.”
They recommend it as a viable treatment for couples to be done before seeking the more expensive in vitro fertilisation.
The results of the study will be published in The New England Journal of Medicine.