Fertility clinic sees rise in pregnancy rate thanks to innovative new treatment

A Nottingham-based fertility clinic has seen the number of pregnancies among older women increase by almost one-fifth, following the introduction of an innovative product to aid conception.

Nurture Fertility, run by The University of Nottingham, has seen a 19 per cent increase in clinical pregnancies among women over the age of 34 who have previously had multiple unsuccessful IVF cycles using a product called Embryoglue®.

It is the only fertility clinic in the East Midlands currently offering Embryoglue®, which mimics the natural secretions found in the womb to increase the chances of an embryo successfully implanting.

Nurture Fertility’s Director of Research, Dr Nick Raine-Fenning said, “We were all very excited about introducing Embryoglue® at Nurture and are delighted to see it seems to be having a positive effect. It’s early days but the results are very encouraging and I am convinced it has a role in some if not all couples.

“It’s such a simple idea. The beauty lies in the fact it is a naturally occurring substance found in all of us but one that seems to have a very special role in the womb at the time of implantation. There is evidence out there already that it is effective but more work was required and we are pleased to have been able to contribute to that and offer our patients something above and beyond other clinics.”

Embryoglue® is a viscous solution containing high concentrations of the compound hyaluronan. It is a naturally occurring substance found in the uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries which is thought to make the secretions in these organs more viscous to aid fertilisation and implantation. The levels within the womb rise rapidly around the time of implantation before falling again shortly afterwards highlighting the importance and temporal changes in these substances.

Embryologists at Nurture Fertility have seen a dramatic increase in pregnancy rates after IVF from 36 per cent to 55 per cent when Embryoglue® is used in women aged over 34 who have had two or more unsuccessful cycles. The implantation rate, which reflects the total number of embryos implanting, also increased from 30 per cent to 38 per cent.

A larger clinical trial looking at the role of Embryoglue® in all patients is now being planned.

The first patient to receive Embryoglue® as part of her treatment was 39-year-old Marie Lander of East Goscote, who gave birth to twins Niamh and Niall following four years of trying for a baby with her husband Paul.

Initially, they put their fertility problems down to Paul’s previous vasectomy reversal, which they feared had been unsuccessful. However, subsequent tests discounted this and doctors were not able to pinpoint precisely what was preventing Marie from conceiving.

After two IVF cycles — one using fresh embryos and another using frozen embryos stored from their first attempt — the couple were starting to lose heart.

Marie said: “Our instinct was that we had to give it another go but we had set my turning 40 as the cut off point. We wanted to feel like we were in control and to make that decision for ourselves otherwise when do you stop? It would be very easy to just go on and on and let it take over your lives. In addition, there was the cost consideration because we were paying for the treatment ourselves.”

When Marie went in for an embryo transfer as part of another round of IVF in spring 2012, she was told that she had produced two top quality embryos — a grade A and a grade B — and that in order to give her the best possible chance of them implanting successfully they recommended trying Embryoglue®.

The transfer went well and was followed by the torturous process known by couples undergoing IVF as the Two Week Wait — the time they need to wait before taking the all-important pregnancy test to find out whether their treatment had been a success.

Marie added: “I was told not to test early but, of course, I did because this time I definitely felt different. I rushed home from work early one day, did the test and it was negative. It was hugely upsetting and I reacted badly, started talking about going travelling and working overseas with children in developing countries if I couldn’t have any of my own.

“On the morning I was originally supposed to do my test I went in to NURTURE and thought it was going to be a formality but this time when I did the test it was positive. I’d gone in there thinking if it’s not to be, it’s not to be and then suddenly I was pregnant at last. I had an early scan and there they were straight away — two little heartbeats — we were stunned, I just couldn’t believe it.”

After a trouble-free pregnancy, twins Niamh and Niall were born at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham on October 31 2012, a little early but healthy and weighing in at 5lb 8oz and 4lb 9oz. Staff at QMC-based NURTURE were among the first visitors to pop in and wish the new family well.

Now enjoying all that life with two three-month-old babies brings, the couple certainly believe that Embryoglue® had a role to play in their happy outcome.

Marie added: “I’m convinced it played a part. Anything which could potentially give you a greater chance at success has got to be worth the chance.”

NURTURE has been established since 1991 and during its existence has performed around 10,000 cycles and more than 2,200 babies have been born as a result. It is the leading clinic in the East Midlands for patients under 35 where 46 per cent of all couples treated conceive and its live birth rates for fresh embryo transfers through IVF and ICSI are always significantly above the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) national average.

As part of The University of Nottingham, patients benefit from continual investment into research and Embryoglue is just one example of the importance and potential of bringing the latest findings from the laboratory into clinical practice.



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