A new test has been developed to assist couples who have ‘unexplained infertility’ problems.
Annually around 50,000 couples are told they will need fertility treatment to conceive and a third is told that no problems have been detected. A recent study has found that 80 per cent of these couples cannot conceive due to poor quality sperm.
Sperm is examined for shape, speed and concentration under the microscope and the new test looks for tiny breaks or tears in the sperm’s DNA. If sperm is classified as ‘high sperm DNA damage’ a women is less likely to become pregnant and there is a higher chance she will miscarry.
Professor Sheena Lewis, of Queens University Belfast, said: “For almost one third of couples, until now, there has been no obvious cause for infertility and these couples were given the diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’. These couples often invest a lot of time and money in fertility treatments, like intrauterine insemination, which are unlikely to be successful. Now that we have found the cause of infertility for these couples suitable treatments can be tailored which will direct them straight to the best treatment”.