One in eight couples will have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term, however many are left frustrated without a formal diagnosis to explain their challenges. While some causes are truly unknown, others go undiagnosed as there is not enough information available.Using Core Body Temperature (CBT) monitoring, women and their doctors may now be able to identify previously undetectable causes of infertility.

Recognizing this gap in care, researchers studied the data from users of OvuSense, which is the only clinically proven fertility monitor with Class 2 regulatory approval, to understand the link between cycle characteristics of CBT curves and infertility. In the paper, presented at the 2019 American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) meeting, the OvuSense team has assessed a range of atypical cycle patterns and prevalence within the OvuSense user base.

What does this mean for current approaches to fertility? 

PracticeUpdate highlighted the results of this research, and the implications they have on uncovering previously unidentified fertility issues. 

According to Fertility Focus CEO Rob Milnes, “In the past, an expectant management approach was used to determine whether a couple was able to conceive naturally, but the expectant management approach forces them to wait to find that out, and a significant number of women with ovulatory issues never receive a satisfactory diagnosis. The ability of women over the age of 30 to conceive naturally within a year declines by around 5% per year, so with the demographic shift, it is now essential to find out if there is an ovulatory issue as soon as possible.” 

Analysing over 10,000 cycles from more than 6,500 OvuSense users, researchers were able to identify three atypical temperature patterns which may be linked with infertility. Knowing this information in advance may help doctors diagnose ovulatory issues and then monitor treatment, helping to remove some of the doubt around “unexplained” infertility, enable timely intervention or prevent recurrent miscarriages.  

What did the researchers find? 

Reported by PracticeUpdate, the temperature patterns identified by the OvuSense system likely reflect luteal progesterone changes and may well be indicative of subtle progesterone secretion or metabolism anomalies that have not yet been recognized. 

‘‘Crash To Baseline’’ suggests high progesterone early in the cycle. ‘‘False Start’’ suggests an initial surge in luteinizing hormone with an accompanying small progesterone rise that may not always be followed by ovulation within 48 hours. Both of these abnormal temperature patterns would be expected to occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, and the study investigators do indeed plan to test this hypothesis. ‘‘Crash After Ovulation” suggests that progesterone may fall sharply in some women before the onset of menses, and it is possible that fertility may be impaired in these cycles.

Mr. Milnes reflects that despite these advances in understanding, more research is needed: “It is increasingly clear that there is no such thing as a typical cycle pattern, and in fact all women are likely to have their own unique pattern. Further research is now underway to confirm the link between the identified cycle patterns and ovulatory issues with additional publications expected in 2020.” 

You can read more about this research and the results on PracticeUpdate