A study conducted by University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute revealed that women may achieve pregnancies by adapting a 100-year-old technique — which involves “flushing” the woman’s fallopian tubes with iodised poppy seed oil. File pix by EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN

CANBERRA: A 100-year-old medical technique could be used to achieve pregnancy in infertile women without the need for expensive in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments, according to researchers from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

The often overlooked historical technique, which involves “flushing” the woman’s fallopian tubes with iodised poppy seed oil, has been proven to be successful in aiding fertility, according to research teams in Australia and the Netherlands.

Professor Ben Mol from the University of Adelaide said the procedure, called a hysterosalpingography (HSG), was first carried out in 1917 and involved flushing the tubes with the oil during an X-ray.

“Over the past century, pregnancy rates among infertile women reportedly increased after their tubes had been flushed with either water or oil during this X-ray procedure. Until now, it has been unclear whether the type of solution used in the procedure was influencing the change in fertility,” Mol said on Friday.

“Our results have been even more exciting than we could have predicted, helping to confirm that an age-old medical technique still has an important place in modern medicine.”

According to the results of Mol’s study, almost 40 per cent of infertile women who underwent the procedure with the oil - and 29 per cent of infertile women who underwent the produce using water - achieved successful pregnancies within six months of the HSG being performed.

“The rates of successful pregnancy were significantly higher in the oil-based group, and after only one treatment. This is an important outcome for women who would have had no other course of action other than to seek IVF treatment. It offers new hope to infertile couples,” Mol said.

“We still don’t really understand why there is a benefit, only that there is a benefit from this technique, in particular for women who don’t present with any other treatable fertility symptoms. “Further research would need to be conducted into the mechanisms behind what we’re seeing. For now, and considering the technique has been used for 100 years without any known side-effects, we believe it is a viable treatment for infertility prior to couples seeking IVF.”

Mol said the oil used in the tests was Lipiodol Ultra-Fluid – an iodised solution of fatty acids from poppy seeds which is available in 47 countries around the world. -- BERNAMA

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