A century-old medical technique could be successful in helping women get pregnant today. New Scientist reports that Ben Mol of the University of Adelaide in Australia worked with his team to investigate whether flushing women’s fallopian tubes with poppyseed oil during x-ray scans led to higher conception rates.
The results? It just might.
This medical technique involves dissolving poppyseed oil in a liquid dye, which illuminates the reproductive organs during scans. New Scientist reports that since many women fail to get pregnant because of blockages in their fallopian tubes, this method helps doctors search for those blocks. Mol and his team randomly divided a sample of 1,119 women into an experimental group that received testing poppyseed oil and a control group that received testing with water.
Researchers found that 40% of women who had their fallopian tubes flushed with the poppyseed oil got pregnant during the next six months, compared to 29% of those who were tested with water.
“Our results have been even more exciting than we could have predicted, helping to confirm that an age-old medical technique still has an important place in modern medicine,” Mol said in a statement to The Sun.
About 85-90% of infertility cases today are treated with drug therapy or surgery. Mol told The Sun that his team’s findings could present a new alternative to these methods.
“The rates of successful pregnancy were significantly higher in the oil-based group, and after only one treatment,” he said. “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.”
While Mol and his team know that the technique seems to work, they aren’t sure exactly why it works, he told The Sun.
“The reality is, we still don’t really understand why there is a benefit, only that there is a benefit from this technique, in particular for women who don’t present with any other treatable fertility symptoms,” he said.
With about 328,200 medical and clinical lab technicians working in the Unite States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those working in fertility have the challenge of coming up with new techniques to keep up with rates of infertility. Mol said in a statement to The Sun that it will be the role of clinical professionals and healthcare regulation bodies to make this treatment available at fertility centers.
“Professional bodies responsible for guidelines, funders of health care, and fertility clinics all have a role to play in assisting infertile couples to make this intervention available to couples before IVF is started,” he said.
The study is currently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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