Does 'natural killer' NK cell treatment help you have an IVF baby?

25th July 2013 in Advice

This information was correct at the time of publishing. It may not reflect our current practices, prices or regulations.

There has been much reported in the media about the use of an intralipids supplement or ‘egg yolk’ treatment and its success in helping women to conceive their children through IVF where they had previously had multiple failed cycles.

The intralipids mixture – of egg yolks and soya oil – is believed to suppress the body’s own ‘Natural Killer’ cells or NK cells. Some women have an immune disorder which causes their NK cells to attack the developing embryo, and so by using intralipids, it’s thought that the body can then accept the transferred embryo resulting in successful IVF.

But whilst there have been some reported successes using this treatment, it remains an experimental treatment and currently at Manchester Fertility we do not recommend or promote the use of intralipids for IVF treatment.

Indeed, at our clinic any ‘Natural Killer’ or NK cell treatment falls under the ‘red’ category in our traffic-light system of treatments, which we have developed to help you understand our approach. ‘ Green’ is for treatments which are evidence-based and have tangible success, ‘amber’ for those which have limited benefits and ‘red’ for treatments which are experimental at best and are risky – like intralipids.

It’s important to remember that ‘treatments’ which make the headlines in the media are often scientifically unproven. They are considered experimental by the profession and are not recommended – but because it worked for a very small handful, you assume it would work for you too.

Isolated reports of success, with no large-scale studies on differing groups of women all with different medical histories and profiles, makes it difficult to assess the efficiency of reported successes using controversial and experimental methods. Does the intralipids supplement work for all women who suffer from an immune disorder? Should all women take intralipids during IVF just in case?

We do not offer experimental treatments at Manchester Fertility, or treatments which don’t have proven, evidence-based success.

When you come and see us for treatment, we will always be very clear with you about what your options are and the likely success for them, and will plan treatment for you always based on your unique, individual and personal diagnosis and circumstances. It’s why we are known for our patient-focused approach at Manchester Fertility. Your needs are paramount and it shapes everything we do as a team.

Last updated: 24th July 2013