Dr Amy Taylor is lead researcher on the BRIST-IVF study, running now at the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine.
Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby, grew up here in Bristol. Now, around 20,000 babies are born through IVF in the UK every year.
Research has enabled us to learn a great deal about IVF since Louise’s birth in 1978. We know, for example, that maternal age and the number of eggs a woman has – their ‘ovarian reserve’ – are factors which affect the success of IVF treatment. But there’s still a lot that we don’t know.
IVF treatment outcomes are still improving, albeit slowly. If we want to try and increase this rate, we need to identify whether other factors – biological and environmental – have an impact on whether IVF treatment is successful.
Our new research study, BRIST-IVF, has just started at the BCRM. We’re collecting information from couples and individuals undergoing IVF and ICSI treatment, with the aim of improving IVF treatment outcomes in the future.
Anyone (women and their partners) undergoing IVF or ICSI treatment at the BCRM can take part. We would like to collect information on all individuals involved in treatment, including male and female partners.
Taking part involves answering a short questionnaire, having height, weight and blood pressure measured and providing blood and urine samples. We’re collecting this information just before patients start an IVF or ICSI treatment cycle or have a frozen embryo transfer.
We’ll use this information to investigate factors associated with the success of IVF treatment. This could lead to improving the quality of information offered to fertility patients and developing interventions – either lifestyle or clinical – that could improve people’s chances of success. We’ll also look at the longer term impact of IVF treatment on the health of women, their partners and children.
Because we’ll be collecting a lot of information – from more than 1,000 couples, hopefully – it will take a few years to analyse the data and get results. But we hope these results will help us to identify, at a population-wide level, the health factors that play a part in whether, or not, IVF is successful.
The more we find out, the more we can help people trying to conceive via IVF.
The BRIST-IVF study (www.bristol.ac.uk/ivf-study) is being carried out by the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, a partnership between the University of Bristol and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.
For further information about how to take part, please contact our research nurse, Alison Kirby, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07929 044 873.