IVF success rates depend on a number of factors such as the woman's age, reproductive history, and lifestyle. In Britain, more than 60,000 cycles of IVF are performed every year, but only about a quarter (24 percent) of those treatments are successful.
Scientists believe that bad timing can be one reason for the lack of success, because an embryo wasn't transferred to a woman's body at the right time. To help improve IVF success rates, scientists in Madrid have now created a test that will identify the ideal window of time for transferring an embryo.
This test will analyze genes within the woman's womb lining to determine when they have entered into a receptive phase.
"For most women there is a two to four day stretch when the lining, or endometrium, sends out crucial chemical signals that allow the embryo to attach. For some women the fertile window is shifted earlier or later in the cycle or is unusually brief, however," reports The Guardian.
A preliminary study was conducted on 85 women who had previously gone through multiple rounds of IVF with no success. But when gene analysis was used, one-third of the participants became pregnant.
"I think it will make a significant difference in the expectations of couples and how we can explain failures," said Professor Juan Garcia-Velasco, who is currently leading an international trial of the test. "Until now, the endometrium was kind of a black box. Now we can say this was the problem and this is what we can do about it."
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
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