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Kit to test fertility without drawing blood

Scientists at the National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH), Parel, have developed a fertility kit that does not require drawing blood for tests.

mumbai Updated: Oct 03, 2011 00:50 IST
Menaka Rao

Scientists at the National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH), Parel, have developed a fertility kit that does not require drawing blood for tests.

Currently, hormone levels of women undergoing fertility treatment are measured through blood samples and involve drawing blood multiple times in a month. Scientists - Dr Ikram Khatkhatay, deputy director of NIRRH and Dr Meena Desai - said that the new fertility kit, which measures hormones through urine, is the first of its kind in the world.

"While similar principles are used in the urine-based pregnancy kit, this is the first such kit for infertility," said Khatkhatay. The technology used in the portable fertility kits was transferred to HLL Lifecare in July.

With rising incidence of infertility, the non-invasive kit could be a boon for women. Diagnosis of fertility involves estimation of four reproductive hormones -- estrogen, progesterone, luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone - which vary with the menstrual cycle. The levels of these hormones are crucial in determining endocrine causes of infertility. "To obtain an accurate picture, we need to measure hormones more frequently," said Khatkhatay.

"Frequent sampling is certainly stressful. Our kit is non-invasive and patient- friendly. Urine can be collected throughout the cycle at home and can be stored in the fridge. It can be later delivered to doctor's office at the end of cycle," said Desai, adding that the kit can collect urine samples every day.

"Whatever information is obtained after estimating parent hormones in blood, similar information is obtained by measuring their products in urine," said Khatkhatay.

The scientists have confirmed utility of these kits on 45 women who collected urine samples daily for six menstrual cycles between 1998 and 1999. "I used the kit at the time of research and I found it extremely convenient for my patients," said Dr PK Meherji, a consulting gynecologist.

HLL officials say that the kits will be available at government hospitals and private laboratories. "The technology was transferred to us a few months ago. We are validating the kits and taking it for commercial production. It will take about two years," said Dr Santosh Abiprem, deputy general manager, Research and Development wing of HLL.