New fertility health tests unveiled
A new private fertility service will use "ground-breaking" DNA techniques to establish why couples are experiencing difficulties conceiving, its developer has claimed.
International medical diagnostics firm Randox said it had created one of the world's most advanced reproductive health checks.
Randox is initially offering the tests in Northern Ireland - the region where the company was founded over 30 years ago - with plans to roll out the service to London in the future.
Outlining its move into the field of fertility health, Randox said its new service would involve physical and biological assessments, with 110 tests carried out in total, including DNA-based protein testing.
Randox managing director and founder Dr Peter FitzGerald said the results would provide a blueprint of health of the entire body, evaluating its preparedness for conception and pregnancy.
"Around one in six couples in Northern Ireland has difficulty conceiving - due to our research and experience, we know that this is not always down to a problem with the sperm, eggs and reproductive organs," he said.
"Issues in other parts of the body may have a significant impact on fertility, from hormone imbalance, obesity and stress.
"We are using the latest medical and scientific techniques available to assess the whole body, to provide clarity and to help boost fertility.
"For many couples, we know that very sophisticated treatment, such as IVF is not always needed.
"Sometimes even a simple change in lifestyle or diet is enough."
The new fertility health checks are being launched through Randox's healthcare division Randox Health, in partnership with Northern Ireland fertility experts from GCRM clinic in Belfast; the Regional Fertility Centre at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast; and the Urology Department at Belfast City Hospital.
Couples will be referred to these three clinical facilities potentially, if tests suggest further investigation or treatment is needed.
Dr Peter McFaul of GCRM Belfast said the new service would open up further investigative options for people thinking of having a baby.
"We at GCRM-Belfast, value this partnership with Randox, who are bringing more than three decades of experience in diagnostics to the area of fertility and planning for a family," he said.
"Combined with our own state of the art facility and advanced treatment options, we believe that we can now bring an unrivalled and complete fertility service to Northern Ireland from the first stages of planning a family, through to the treatment of infertility."
The expansion into fertility health has led to the creation of an additional 15 jobs within the Randox Health division in Northern Ireland.
GPs, nurse specialists and administrative staff have been recruited.
The announcement of the new service was made ahead of a reproductive health seminar in Belfast.
The latest developments in diagnosis and treatment in the field of sexual and reproductive health will be discussed at Friday's event.