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Friday, 12 May, 2000, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Viagra succeeds after IVF fails
Viagra
Vaigra appears to aid pregnancy
Viagra has been successfully used to help a British woman suffering from infertility to get pregnant after IVF techniques had failed.

The woman, married and in her thirties, was given the anti-impotence drug to make her womb capable of supporting the development of an embryo.

She is the first person in Britain to become pregnant after undergoing the experimental treatment pioneered in the United States.

The technique is being tested by fertility expert Mohammed Taranissi, who runs the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre in Wimpole Street, London.



If Viagra turns out to be the answer it could be very helpful for these women

Mohammed Taranissi, Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre

Two other women treated the same way should know in the next 10 days if they are pregnant.

A pair of healthy babies has already been born in the United States after their mothers were given Viagra.

Viagra can only be used to treat a particular form of infertility which is caused by the lining of the womb being too thin to support development of an embryo.

Researchers have shown that Viagra can thicken up the lining of the womb.

This enables a fertilised egg to implant itself successfully into the wall of the womb, so that it can establish a supply of vital nutrients from the mother's blood system.

Very cautious

Mr Taranissi, whose clinic is more than twice as successful at producing babies than the national average for fertility centres, said: "I'm pleased, but very cautious, because we need to do this with a lot more women to get any meaningful results.

"But this lady had been trying to get pregnant for five or six years, and she'd had two unsuccessful IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) attempts."

Women need to have a uterus lining about 9mm thick to stand a good chance of a successful pregnancy.

But a few women - about 5% to 10% of Mr Taranissi's patients - have wombs only half this thick or less.

Mr Taranissi said: "If you see someone with this problem, you're always stuck. They do very well in every other aspect; they have nice eggs which can be fertilised, but if the embryo can't be implanted they won't get pregnant. If Viagra turns out to be the answer it could be very helpful for these women."

He was initially planning to give Viagra to about five more of his patients.

Many more had volunteered, but only a few were suitable.

At present the women were being offered two 50mg tablets of Viagra a day for 10 days before their IVF treatment.

But Mr Taranissi said a better system would be to administer the drug locally in a pessary to minimise its side effects.

This was done by Dr Geoffrey Sher, at the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Las Vegas, USA, where two Viagra patients have already given birth.



I would like to see more evidence of its efficacy in proper clinical trials before routinely recommending it to patients with this problem

Dr Richard Kennedy, British Fertility Society

Dr Richard Kennedy, secretary of the British Fertility Society, said: "This is an interesting development and obviously fantastic news for the couple involved.

"However, I would like to see more evidence of its efficacy in proper clinical trials before routinely recommending it to patients with this problem."

Dr Kennedy said other drugs were thought to have a similar effect on the blood supply to the lining of the uterus, most notably aspirin, which has fewer side effects than Viagra.

Viagra can be dangerous if taken by patients with heart conditions.

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See also:

02 Jun 98 | Medical notes
How Viagra works
23 Mar 00 | Health
Viagra 'reverses infertility'
28 Apr 00 | Health
Viagra is 'worth the money'
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