Treatment Protocol Reexamined

Interventions Don't Work

The latest bad news is that a study undertaken in the UK has found that accepted medical interventions in common use for couples with infertility don't seem to help. Based on these findings, the authors say that guidelines for infertility treatment in the UK need to be reviewed.

One in every seven UK couples has fertility problems. A quarter of them are affected by unexplained infertility. The long-established therapeutic interventions used to help them follow guidelines issued many years ago by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

No Treatment Approach

Researchers under the auspices of the University of Aberdeen compared two types of intervention against the no treatment approach. For this purpose, the team recruited 580 women suffering from unexplained infertility for more than two years. The subjects were chosen from four teaching hospitals as well as a district general hospital in Scotland. The women were divided into three groups for purposes of randomization. One group tried to conceive with no intervention, one group was treated with the fertility drug known as Clomid (Clomiphene citrate, or CC) which is prescribed to correct ovulatory dysfunction, and the third group underwent unstimulated intrauterine insemination (IUI) of sperm.

During the course of the study, 101 women conceived and bore live children. The group of women who tried for a natural conception experienced a live birth rate of 17%, those taking Clomid had a birth rate of 14%, and the group with IUI had a live birth rate of 23%.

The authors of this study underlined the fact that the 6% difference in live births between the IUI group and the group with no intervention is not considered a significant or meaningful statistical difference. The findings of this study indicate that the highest percentage of side effects was experienced by those women taking Clomid with 10-20% experiencing headaches, nausea, hot flushes, bloating, and abdominal pain. 

Those women receiving active treatment (Clomid or IUI) reported feelings of satisfaction with their treatment as compared to those women who received no intervention and felt less satisfied, despite the fact that no treatment was just as effective in producing a live birth.

Researchers conclude that, "These interventions, which have been in use for many years, are unlikely to be more effective than no treatment. These results challenge current practice, as endorsed by a national guideline in the UK."

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