The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Catharina Hospital have developed a groundbreaking method to help women with fertility issues.
They have devised a way to measure uterine contractions simply and objectively. These uterine waves play a role in the implantation of an embryo in the uterus. So, a good measurement method is vital.
This has been lacking thus far. Gynaecologists are now learning more about the influence of uterine contractions on the implantation of an embryo during IVF. Celine Blank has done her doctoral research on the subject.
“It’s now crucial that we study these waves well. They can serve as a predictive factor in fertility treatments. The success rate for women undergoing fertility treatment is now only around 30% per attempt,” says Celine. She’ll be getting her PhD from the TU/e and at the TU/e and the University of Ghent at the end of the week.
“Treating a shortage or surplus of waves can potentially increase the chance of pregnancy.” The technique used to measure uterine waves is copied from cardiologists. Prof. Dick Schoot is a gynaecologist at Catharina Hospital and one of Blank’s supervisor. “Cardiologists use the Speckle Tracking technique to measure the mobility of the heart,” he explains.
“This, like the uterus, is a muscle.” This method was adapted for the uterus and then extensively tested. First, in a controlled environment on wombs outside the body and later in healthy volunteers.
Understanding the uterus better
“We increasingly better understanding which mechanical movements of the uterus play a role in several things. These are pain, irregular bleeding and becoming pregnant. But we are still at the beginning of this promising technique,” says Schoot.
“We combine this examination with electric measurements of the uterus. Such an examination is not at all stressful for the patient. We place stickers on the abdomen to measure the contractions, like during an ECG.”
Blank adds, “Only now we’re not measuring the heart’s electric pulses, but that of the uterus. We use machine learning and a combination of these two measurement methods to predict the IVF outcome. That’s with an accuracy of up to 94%.”
Source: Catharina Hospital