Approximately a third of women suffer from vaginal bleeding or pain during early pregnancy. Generally, an ultrasound is conducted to determine if the pregnancy is viable or non-viable. Unfortunately, these can sometimes be inconclusive. Now, a new study conducted by a team of UK and Dutch researchers, suggests a simple progesterone test may help in determining the viability of pregnancy when bleeding and pain are experienced during early pregnancy.
Previous studies on progesterone testing have been inconclusive; some have found that progesterone testing is helpful in detecting ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, others have found them to be unreliable. So to try and come to a conclusion on just how accurate progesterone testing is, the researchers analyzed a total of 26 studies that involved 9,436 pregnant women; seven of them looked at women with pain or bleeding in which an ultrasound was inconclusive, the remaining 19 covered only women that suffered from pain or bleeding.
After taking study quality into account, researchers found that a single low progesterone measurement in women was able to detect a non-viable pregnancy when an ultrasound was found to be inconclusive. For women who had not received an ultrasound, however, the progesterone test was found to be less effective in detecting a non-viable pregnancy. Additionally, the researchers stressed that a low progesterone test can occur, even in viable pregnancies.
“The test should be complemented by another test to increase its diagnostic accuracy,” the researchers said. “This test is highly accurate when complemented by ultrasound and could be added to the existing algorithms for the evaluation of women with pain or bleeding in early pregnancy as it can accelerate diagnosis.”
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