'IVF without hormones' hailed

Younger women undergoing fertility treatment may stand a better chance of getting pregnant with a new procedure that does not stimulate the ovaries with powerful hormone-containing drugs, doctors said yesterday.

Findings from the first fertility centre in Britain to use in-vitro maturation (IVM) as an alternative to IVF reveal that pregnancy rates are comparable between the two techniques but only for women under 35. In IVF, women are given hormones for about two or three weeks to stimulate their ovaries to produce mature eggs before they are surgically removed for in vitro fertilisation. In IVM, however, immature eggs are removed from the ovaries without the use of drugs and matured in the laboratory before being fertilised with sperm.

The new technique, which has only recently been introduced to Britain, is considered to be safer than conventional IVF because it does not increase the risk of potentially lethal hyperstimulation syndrome, where the ovaries respond adversely to the hormones used during IVF treatment.

Tim Child, of the Oxford Fertility Centre, said that 70 women in Britain had undergone IVM in the past year and for the 40 patients who were under 35 the pregnancy rate was 48 per cent – compared to a pregnancy rate of about 55 per cent for women undergoing conventional IVF.

The percentage of under 35-year-olds achieving a clinical pregnancy – where the heartbeat of the baby has been detected – was 33 per cent. Just 10 babies of mothers undergoing IVM and attending the Oxford centre have so far been born, so it is still too early to estimate an accurate live-birth rate, which is 31 per cent for IVF.

"What we've found looking back on the first year of using IVM is that it works particularly well for a group of women at the younger end of the scale that we have treated," said Dr Child.

"It's an improvement in that we've worked out which patients do best with IVM, so it's about offering it to the right couples," he said.

About 900 babies have been born worldwide by the IVM technique. The first IVM babies in Britain were born last year after the Oxford Fertility Centre was given a licence to use the procedure by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

The HFEA's experts found that there was no evidence to suggest that IVM was dangerous either to women or to their babies – although further safety studies are still in progress.

Dr Child said that when IVM was first used, pregnancy rates and live-birth rates were relatively low compared to conventional IVF but better laboratory procedures, as well as patient selection, had improved the success rate significantly. "I'm not sure we will ever get better than IVF but the aim is to achieve the same success rate. The advantages of IVM are so great – it is safer and easier. Women who have had both say that they prefer IVM because they do not need several weeks of drug treatment," Dr Child said.

Svend Lindenberg, of the Copenhagen Fertility Centre, who pioneered IVM, said it was best suited to younger women who have regular periods.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower