For decades, women have been using the pill to not get pregnant. However, for women who do want a baby but are finding it difficult to conceive, the very same contraceptive may be a boon, say researchers at Tel Aviv University.
On a study conducted on 1,800 women at the Infertility and IVF Unit at the Helen Schneider Hospital for Women, Rabin Medical Center, researchers led by Dr. Haim Pinkas, found that a two-week intervention treatment using a standard low-dose birth control pill can help time egg harvesting - making the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) more convenient for doctor and patient.
According to clinicians, the ability to time the IVF process is also crucial to successfully conceiving.
"One of the main drawbacks in treating infertility is timing a woman's body with the clinic's schedule, so we can get as many mature eggs as possible. IVF clinics can be extremely busy," said Dr. Pinkas.
Normally doctors start the IVF treatment from the moment a woman gets her period.
Now, the researchers have found that using birth control pills, for 10-14 days after a period, allows the treatment to be adjusted without compromising the "ovarian response to stimulation."
This way, egg-harvesting can fall on a date mutually convenient to both the clinician and patient.
"With a proven and safe method for timing when a woman can undergo therapy, there is a lot less stress placed on the physicians' shoulders too," Dr. Pinkas said.
"The IVF process can be very stressful. Adding to that stress is the timing issue. Women need to be able to get on with their lives. This treatment makes it possible," he added.
Though the study is not the first to investigate the use of the pill in IVF, but it is the largest one performed so far.
The study appeared in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction & Genetics in January of this year.