Recent fertility research projects

Read about our recent fertility projects here.


Patients at Complete Fertility are currently being asked to take part in a research study to find out which method of embryo transfer results in a higher healthy baby rate. IVF involves hormone injections to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to produce eggs which are then removed by a minor operation and mixed with sperm to create embryos in the laboratory. Usually these embryos are replaced within the uterus in 3 to 5 days. This is called fresh embryo transfer. Any remaining embryos are usually frozen so that they can be thawed and transferred at a later date if required – a process known as thawed frozen embryo transfer. Both forms of embryo transfer are commonly used as part of routine IVF treatment.

There have been some small studies, which suggest that using thawed frozen embryos may lead to improved pregnancy rates. This is because when frozen embryos are used, there is a delay in embryo transfer of between one and three months, allowing the excess of hormones of ovarian stimulation to wear off, giving the uterus time to return to its natural state. Only a few, small studies have been done so we don’t know which procedure is better. The E-Freeze study will compare these two procedures of embryo transfer in 1086 couples from IVF centres throughout the UK. 

For more information on this study please contact Sue Wellstead or Teresa Gubbins on 023 8120 6856 or /

Endometrial scratch trial

This research study is being conducted to find out if performing an endometrial scratch is beneficial for women undergoing IVF/ICSI for the first time.

An endometrial scratch is a simple routine outpatient procedure that involves taking a small amount of tissue from the lining of the womb (endometrium). It is thought that the process of scratching the lining of the womb may release certain chemicals that are important in helping the fertilised egg (embryo) to stick to the lining of the womb (implantation). Similar trials have used the same technique in women undergoing IVF/ICSI for the second or subsequent time with beneficial results.

The endometrial scratch trial plans to recruit 1044 women from ten IVF units in the UK. Each woman taking part in the trial will be randomly allocated to receive (intervention group) or not receive (control group) the endometrial scratch procedure. If you have the endometrial scratch you’ll require one additional visit to your IVF clinic for the procedure.

Cheong, Y., Pye, C., Chatters, R., Cohen, J., Walters, S., Young, T., ... Metwally, M. (2018). Induced Endometrial Trauma (endometrial scratch) in the mid-luteal menstrual cycle phase preceding first cycle IVF/ICSI versus usual IVF/ICSI therapy: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open.

Trial to examine the quality of embryos cultured in two different incubators

Patients have been taking part in a trial in order for us to understand whether there is any difference between the growth and development of embryos cultured in two different incubators; the standard benchtop ‘MINC’ incubator and an Embryoscope™.

The Embryoscope™ is a new type of incubator which may improve IVF outcomes, but this has not yet been demonstrated. We wish to compare this incubator with our standard incubator. Both have been shown to be safe and effective in clinical practice.

Results are coming soon.

New pioneering mediterranean diet IVF study

Professor Nick Macklon and other researchers will identify how two different diets taken six weeks prior to treatment – known as the preconception period – affect the quality of sperm and egg cells, the resulting embryo and the environment of the uterus into which it must implant to achieve a pregnancy.

A total of 110 couples planning to undergo IVF have been recruited to take part in the preconception dietary supplements in assisted reproduction (PREPARE) trial, which is being conducted at Complete Fertility Centre Southampton and funded by the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre in nutrition.

The team are using a cutting-edge incubator, known as an Embryoscope, to view fertilised eggs round-the-clock and look for any key changes during transition to embryos.

Results are coming soon.

What do you know about the biological clock?

This research programme by Professor Nick Macklon and Dr Camille Lallemant looks at the knowledge women and men have of age related fertility decline and its implications for planning a family.

Researchers hope that a better understanding of the reasons behind delaying having a family will help in the provision of relevant information to enable women and couples to make informed fertility decisions in the future. It will also allow for better service provision not only for women and couples wishing to postpone childbearing, but also for those women wishing to plan a family.

Results coming soon.

Recent publications


Cheong, Y., Tulandi, T., & Li, T-C. (Eds.) (2018). Practical problems in assisted conception. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Ng, K., Wellstead, S., Cheong, Y., & Macklon, N. (2018). A randomised controlled trial of a personalised lifestyle coaching application in modifying periconceptional behaviours in women suffering from reproductive failures (iPLAN trial)BMC Women’s Health, 196. DOI: 10.1186/s12905-018-0689-7

Cheong, Y., Saran, M., Hounslow, J. W., & Reading, I. C. (2018). Are pelvic adhesions associated with pain, physical, emotional and functional characteristics of women presenting with chronic pelvic pain? A cluster analysisBMC Women’s Health, 18(1), 11. DOI: 10.1186/s12905-017-0509-510.1186/s12905-017-0509-5

Kandavel, V., & Cheong, Y. (2018). Does intra-uterine insemination have a place in modern ART practice? Best Practice and Research: Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 53, 3-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2018.08.003

Vincent, K., Baranowski, A., Bhattacharya, S., Birch, J., Cheong, Y., Cregg, R., ... Horne, A. W. (2018). GaPP2: A multi-centre randomised controlled trial of the efficacy of gabapentin for the management of chronic pelvic pain in women: study protocolBMJ Open, 8(1), 1-8. [e014924]. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014924

Cheong, Y., Pye, C., Chatters, R., Cohen, J., Walters, S., Young, T., ... Metwally, M. (2018). Induced Endometrial Trauma (endometrial scratch) in the mid-luteal menstrual cycle phase preceding first cycle IVF/ICSI versus usual IVF/ICSI therapy: study protocol for a randomised controlled trialBMJ Open.

Manousopoulou, A., Hamdan, M., Fotopoulos, M., Garay Baquero, D., Teng, J., Garbis, S., & Cheong, Y. (2018). Integrated eutopic endometrium and non-depleted serum quantitative proteomic analysis identifies candidate serological markers of endometriosisProteomics Clinical Applications.

Ng, K. Y. B., Mingels, R., Morgan, H., Macklon, N., & Cheong, Y. (2018). In-vivo oxygen, temperature and pH dynamics in the reproductive tract and their importance in human conception. Human Reproduction Update, 24(1), 15-34. DOI: 10.1093/humupd/dmx028

Eapen, A., Joing, M., Kwon, P., Tong, J., Maneta, E., De Santo, C., ... for the RESPONSE study group (2018). Recombinant human granulocyte - colony stimulating factor in women with unexplained recurrent pregnancy losses: a randomised clinical trialHuman Reproduction.