Five advanced tests provide answers to couples with unexplained infertility

For couples struggling with infertility, "all routine tests came back negative" are not the words they want to hear. With up to 15% of couples with "unexplained infertility" and another 3% struggling with recurrent pregnancy loss, advanced tests help doctors find answers for their most challenging cases.

According to Benjamin Rivnay, PhD and VP of R&D at Repromedix infertility testing laboratory based in Woburn, Mass., many disorders revealed by advanced testing are treatable with simple drug therapies.

Thrombophilia is the tendency to form blood clots that deprive the fetus of sufficient oxygen and nourishment. Memphis infertility specialist Dr. William Kutteh says thrombophilias explain up to 10% of all recurrent pregnancy losses.

An SDFA test assesses DNA damage to sperm, while an SDD test measures a crucial sperm function after it penetrates the egg. According to Rivnay, "Taken together, SDD/SDFA tests better predict a sperm's ability to achieve pregnancy and a live birth."

A 2002 study in Human Reproduction found that women with low levels of the Inhibin B hormone had more impaired ovarian stimulation during an IVF cycle. New Jersey infertility specialist Scott Roseff, MD, FACOG, said results from Inhibin B tests indicate "if a patient may benefit from aggressive fertility treatments such as IVF, and the best injectable fertility drug protocol." Dr. Roseff cites experience with several patients whose test results "changed their course of treatment, resulting in successful pregnancies."

Natural Killer (NK) white blood cells defend the body against foreign organisms, including a fetus, if the immune system does not adjust properly for pregnancy. Elevated NK cell levels may correlate to rejection-related pregnancy loss, so an immune-directed treatment can be beneficial for patients who test positive for elevated levels of NK cells.

In clinical studies, women with elevated Antiovarian Antibodies (AOA) were found to have impaired response to ovulation induction in IVF treatment, and severe AOA patients may have symptoms of premature ovarian failure (early menopause).

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