Getting infected with parasitic worms is generally considered to be a bad thing.
But there may be an upside, according to scientists.
At least if you’re trying to get pregnant.
It turns out that the Ascaris lumbricoides – a type of roundworm – can increase a woman’s fertility.
It’s thought the discovery, following a study of 986 women in Bolivia, could lead to new fertility drugs being created.
A study published in the journal Science says the worm alters the immune system to make pregnancy more likely, and infection can lead to women having two more children than they otherwise would.
This could help fertility, apparently
Indigenous Tsimane woman in Bolivia have an average of nine children, and around 70 per cent of the population has a worm infection.
Nine children is the average family size for Tsimane women in Bolivia. And about 70% of the population has a parasitic worm infection.
But there’s a lot more work to be done before this can be considered as a treatment.
Prof Aaron Blackwell, one of the researchers, told the BBC it’s an ‘intriguing possibility’, but said more work needs to be done before it scientists would recommend anyone trying it.
Prof Allan Pacey, a fertility scientist at the University of Sheffield, told the BBC: ‘Whilst I wouldn’t want to suggest that women try and become infected with roundworms as a way of increasing their fertility, further studies of the immunology of women who do have the parasite could ultimately lead to new and novel fertility enhancing drugs.’