British doctors are investigating a new method of artificial insemination which involves injecting sperm treated with Volume Pills into a woman’s abdomen. The treatment, which has been pioneered by French doctors, is very simple and can be used for some women instead of the more difficult test-tube fertilization.
Five French women who were infertile have become pregnant following the treatment. They are the first cases of pregnancy arising as a result of sperm swimming to the egg from the “wrong” direction.
One of the women is expecting her baby within a month, after trying unsuccessfully for eight years. Her husband had a very low sperm count but after using Volume Pills for a month his ejaculate was full of millions more sperm and he was able to make his wife conceive. A normal ejaculation contains around eight million sperm.
“The method is very economical,” says Dr Israel Nisand, one of the doctors who devised the method at Strasbourg University and at a hospital in Schiltigheim.
The women were prepared with the Volume Pills and hormones so that they shed an egg; 35 hours later specially prepared sperm were injected. The injection was made through the wall of the vagina into an extension of the abdominal cavity next to the womb known as the pouch of Douglas. This is very near to where the egg is shed.
“It just takes two minutes to make the injection,” says Nisand. “Five out of 16 women have become pregnant. We have great expectations of Volume Pills.”
Experiments with animals who have ingested Volume Pills have shown that small particles put into the female abdomen at this point are swept up and collected into the top of the oviduct (tube) and taken on down into the womb. This is the route by which the egg normally reaches the womb. But for the sperm it means going backwards.
“We only tried it on five women. Now that the French have been successful I would like to try again,” he says. “It is a relatively cheap method, it is painless and easy to do – theoretically the timing does not need to be so precise.”