A simple blood test to predict which women are at risk of infertility from Chlamydia is being developed by an Australian scientist.
Dr Wilhlemina Huston of the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, said that infection by the bacteria Chlamydia could be said to lead to infertility in as many as 20 per cent of couples undergoing IVF.
"We are looking for immunological markers in the blood which indicate the person has had Chlamydia and within that, more specific markers which show they are at risk of infertility," Dr Huston said.
"Chlamydia is often a symptomless sexually transmitted infection so many women do not know they have it until they go to the IVF clinic.
"We know that not every woman who gets Chlamydia becomes infertile and many naturally resolve the infection themselves.
"But in some women the body's response to the infection is too aggressive and it damages their tissue in the Fallopian tubes. Once this happens there is no option but IVF," she said.
Dr Huston said the aim of her research was to develop a simple blood test that could become a routine part of an annual consultation or when blood is tested for other problems.
"Because the immune response is different for women who develop infertility from those who don't, there should be markers in the blood which could indicate the likelihood of infertility."
Dr Huston's research is funded by a Commonwealth Government NHMRC Project Grant and the Wesley Research Institute (WRI).
Wesley Research Institute Director Professor Julie Campbell AO said: "If a routine blood test for Chlamydia can be developed, women can be offered early treatment and many cases of infertility prevented.
"WRI is committed to supporting medical research projects such as Dr Huston's which offer real hope to people who are suffering today."
Dr Huston works with clinicians from Queensland Health and the Wesley Monash IVF and Gynaecology Clinic.