Agents for ovarian stimulation for intrauterine insemination (IUI) in ovulatory women with infertility

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Abstract

Background: Intrauterine insemination (IUI), combined with ovarian stimulation (OS), has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for infertile couples. Several agents for ovarian stimulation, combined with IUI, have been proposed, but it is still not clear which agents for stimulation are the most effective. This is an update of the review, first published in 2007. Objectives: To assess the effects of agents for ovarian stimulation for intrauterine insemination in infertile ovulatory women. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Gynaecology and Fertility Group trials register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL and two trial registers from their inception to November 2020. We performed reference checking and contacted study authors and experts in the field to identify additional studies. Selection criteria: We included truly randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared different agents for ovarian stimulation combined with IUI for infertile ovulatory women concerning couples with unexplained infertility. mild male factor infertility and minimal to mild endometriosis. Data collection and analysis: We used standard methodological procedures recommended by Cochrane. Main results: In this updated review, we have included a total of 82 studies, involving 12,614 women. Due to the multitude of comparisons between different agents for ovarian stimulation, we highlight the seven most often reported here. Gonadotropins versus anti-oestrogens (13 studies). For live birth, the results of five studies were pooled and showed a probable improvement in the cumulative live birth rate for gonadotropins compared to anti-oestrogens (odds ratio (OR) 1.37, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05 to 1.79; I2 = 30%; 5 studies, 1924 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). This suggests that if the chance of live birth following anti-oestrogens is assumed to be 22.8%, the chance following gonadotropins would be between 23.7% and 34.6%. The pooled effect of seven studies revealed that we are uncertain whether gonadotropins lead to a higher multiple pregnancy rate compared with anti-oestrogens (OR 1.58, 95% CI 0.60 to 4.17; I2 = 58%; 7 studies, 2139 participants; low-certainty evidence). Aromatase inhibitors versus anti-oestrogens (8 studies). One study reported live birth rates for this comparison. We are uncertain whether aromatase inhibitors improve live birth rate compared with anti-oestrogens (OR 0.75, CI 95% 0.51 to 1.11; 1 study, 599 participants; low-certainty evidence). This suggests that if the chance of live birth following anti-oestrogens is 23.4%, the chance following aromatase inhibitors would be between 13.5% and 25.3%. The results of pooling four studies revealed that we are uncertain whether aromatase inhibitors compared with anti-oestrogens lead to a higher multiple pregnancy rate (OR 1.28, CI 95% 0.61 to 2.68; I2 = 0%; 4 studies, 1000 participants; low-certainty evidence). Gonadotropins with GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) agonist versus gonadotropins alone (4 studies). No data were available for live birth. The pooled effect of two studies revealed that we are uncertain whether gonadotropins with GnRH agonist lead to a higher multiple pregnancy rate compared to gonadotropins alone (OR 2.53, 95% CI 0.82 to 7.86; I2 = 0; 2 studies, 264 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Gonadotropins with GnRH antagonist versus gonadotropins alone (14 studies). Three studies reported live birth rate per couple, and we are uncertain whether gonadotropins with GnRH antagonist improve live birth rate compared to gonadotropins (OR 1.5, 95% CI 0.52 to 4.39; I2 = 81%; 3 studies, 419 participants; very low-certainty evidence). This suggests that if the chance of a live birth following gonadotropins alone is 25.7%, the chance following gonadotropins combined with GnRH antagonist would be between 15.2% and 60.3%. We are also uncertain whether gonadotropins combined with GnRH antagonist lead to a higher multiple pregnancy rate compared with gonadotropins alone (OR 1.30, 95% CI 0.74 to 2.28; I2 = 0%; 10 studies, 2095 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). Gonadotropins with anti-oestrogens versus gonadotropins alone (2 studies). Neither of the studies reported data for live birth rate. We are uncertain whether gonadotropins combined with anti-oestrogens lead to a higher multiple pregnancy rate compared with gonadotropins alone, based on one study (OR 3.03, 95% CI 0.12 to 75.1; 1 study, 230 participants; low-certainty evidence). Aromatase inhibitors versus gonadotropins (6 studies). Two studies revealed that aromatase inhibitors may decrease live birth rate compared with gonadotropins (OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.71; I2=0%; 2 studies, 651 participants; low-certainty evidence). This suggests that if the chance of a live birth following gonadotropins alone is 31.9%, the chance of live birth following aromatase inhibitors would be between 13.7% and 25%. We are uncertain whether aromatase inhibitors compared with gonadotropins lead to a higher multiple pregnancy rate (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.06 to 8.17; I2=77%; 3 studies, 731 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Aromatase inhibitors with gonadotropins versus anti-oestrogens with gonadotropins (8 studies). We are uncertain whether aromatase inhibitors combined with gonadotropins improve live birth rate compared with anti-oestrogens plus gonadotropins (OR 0.99, 95% CI 0.3 8 to 2.54; I2 = 69%; 3 studies, 708 participants; very low-certainty evidence). This suggests that if the chance of a live birth following anti-oestrogens plus gonadotropins is 13.8%, the chance following aromatase inhibitors plus gonadotropins would be between 5.7% and 28.9%. We are uncertain of the effect of aromatase inhibitors combined with gonadotropins compared to anti-oestrogens combined with gonadotropins on multiple pregnancy rate (OR 1.31, 95% CI 0.39 to 4.37; I2 = 0%; 5 studies, 901 participants; low-certainty evidence). Authors' conclusions: Based on the available results, gonadotropins probably improve cumulative live birth rate compared with anti-oestrogens (moderate-certainty evidence). Gonadotropins may also improve cumulative live birth rate when compared with aromatase inhibitors (low-certainty evidence). From the available data, there is no convincing evidence that aromatase inhibitors lead to higher live birth rates compared to anti-oestrogens. None of the agents compared lead to significantly higher multiple pregnancy rates. Based on low-certainty evidence, there does not seem to be a role for different combined therapies, nor for adding GnRH agonists or GnRH antagonists in IUI programs.

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Cantineau, A. E. P., Rutten, A. G. H., & Cohlen, B. J. (2021, November 5). Agents for ovarian stimulation for intrauterine insemination (IUI) in ovulatory women with infertility. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD005356.pub3

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