There has been growing evidence in multiple trials around the world, that not only the commonly prescribed conventional fertility treatment medicines are ineffective but also increase the risk of birth defects in those few cases that get positive outcome after the treatment. These are the conventional medicines that have been designed to induce ovulation and improve egg production.
A drug taken by millions of women in recent decades to improve the chances of conceiving a child yields the same results as no treatment at all, according to a study published.
Clinical tests conducted by researchers in Britain found that clomifene citrate, best known by its brand names Clomid and Serophene, failed to improve the odds of becoming pregnant.
One of the most commonly prescribed fertility medications in the world, clomifene is designed to induce ovulation and improve egg production.
The same study of 580 women in Scotland, all of whom had experienced unexplained infertility for more than two years, also showed that so-called unstimulated intra-uterine insemination (IUI) — artificial insemination unaccompanied by drugs to trigger egg production — did not work any better.
“These interventions, which have been in use for many years, are unlikely to be more effective than no treatment,” concludes the study, led by Siladitya Bhattacharya, a professor at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and published in the British Medical Journal.
Bhattacharya and his colleagues also note concerns about multiple pregnancies induced by clomefine citrate, and earlier studies pointing to a potential risk of ovarian cancer.
Ten to 20 percent of the women in the trial taking the drug complained of some combination of abdominal pain, bloating, hot flushes, nausea and headaches.
One study also found that couples who eventually conceived naturally after a least a year of trying, a group doctors call “subfertile,” had a risk of having a baby with a birth defect that was about 40% higher than couples with no fertility medication taken. The risk seen in subfertile couples was also nearly equal to the risk seen in couples who used any assisted reproductive technology (ART) to conceive.
This study, which is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is one of the largest to ever look at the relationship between fertility treatments and birth defects.
It linked 16 years of data — from 1986 to 2002 — on all infertility treatments at two clinics in South Australia to a registry of more than 300,000 births and 18,000 birth defects.
Birth defects associated with ICSI procedure, however, remained 55% higher than the rates seen in fertile couples even after researchers took into account underlying factors associated with birth defects.
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