Sheffield researchers to answer "big question" on fertility with new £1.8m health study

Sheffield researchers are to lead a pioneering £1.8m study that aims to answer one of the "big questions" about fertility, it has been announced today.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 7:00 am
Clare Pye, lead research nurse, and Mostafa Metwally, chief investigator, outside Jessop Fertility where the multi-centre study will be led from.

The work will involve more than 1,100 women who are struggling to conceive or who have had recurrent miscarriages, including Sheffield patients.

It will be the first study to evaluate whether removing small fibroids and endometrial polyps, which are so common they can be found in up to 40 per cent of women with fertility issues, is an effective way to improve women's chances of having a baby or not.

Mostafa Metwally, chief investigator, a consultant gynaecologist and sub-specialist in reproductive medicine and surgery at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told the Sheffield Telegraph: "This work was commissioned because it is a big question in fertility. It is important to women in this country, women across the world, and the NHS."

The type of fibroids and polyps focused on in the HELP Fertility? study are non cancerous, but as they are found in the lining of the womb they can affect the implantation of a fertilised egg.

Some women have signs of the growths, such as heavy periods or pain, but many do not have any knowledge of the fibroids or polyps until they seek help regarding conception.

While the tumours are often removed, and are linked to problems with getting pregnant, there is limited clinical evidence to demonstrate that their removal improves live birth rates. The findings of the trial will help to determine if smaller fibroids and endometrial polyps should be removed during fertility treatment.

Mr Metwally added: "What we hope the study is show is either that doing this surgery does improve the chances of conceiving, or if it doesn't, we really shouldn't offer it to women and we should be looking at other things instead."

The multi-centre study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, is to be run across 30 gynaecology and fertility centres across the UK, and starts in Sheffield today.

The grant award is the third successive multi-million pound grant obtained by the team of gynaecologists and researchers based at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ Jessop Wing and the University of Sheffield’s Clinical Research Trials Unit in the past few years.

The study should take about two and a half years to conclude.