In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) has helped numerous couples have children who otherwise would not have been able to, but a British study of a non-invasive, drug-free alternative to IVF could save them (and the taxpayers who fund the NHS) a lot of money.
A new study (European Obstetrics&Gynaecology, 2011;6(2):92-4) shows that the DuoFertility monitor and service used for six months gives the same chance of pregnancy as a cycle of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) for many infertile couples.
DuoFertility is an ovulation pattern temperature monitor from Cambridge Temperature Concepts Ltd that uses body basal temperature. When a woman ovulates, her body temperature rises slightly as the ruptured follicle that has released the egg secretes a hormone called progesterone.
When the time is optimal to conceive they, ummm, have sex.
The study followed the first 500 couples using DuoFertility from launch in 2009, including 242 who qualified for IVF/ICSI treatment, 90 of whom who had previously had the procedure. The one-year clinical pregnancy rate using DuoFertility for those who qualified for IVF was 39%, which is higher than either the UK or EU clinical pregnancy rates for a cycle of IVF (26% and 28% respectively), whilst the corresponding one-year DuoFertility pregnancy rate for those who had already been through a cycle of IVF/ICSI was 28%.
Some intangible benefit may be psychological. If a woman regards IVF as invasive or a man finds it demeaning, this may help, though those instances are obviously rare. More practically, a typical cycle of IVF costs the NHS around £4,500 including drugs and consultancy, while the cost outside NHS (because of their limitations on who can get it through NHS, these account for 80% of IVF procedures performed in the UK) is around £7,000.
The DuoFertility program costs £495 for a year and the company offers to refund those couples who have not achieved pregnancy after a year of using DuoFertility as directed.
The study authors caution that although non-invasive and drug-free, DuoFertility is not suitable for all couples. Dr. Shamus Husheer, inventor of DuoFertility, says, "although DuoFertility is suitable for around 80% of infertile couples, there are some couples with medically identified conditions that prevent natural conception, such as a woman with two blocked fallopian tubes. In these cases IVF is absolutely the right thing to do, enabling conception where it was previously a physical impossibility."