Author(s): Helmerhorst FM, van Vliet HA, Gornas T, Finken MJ, Grimes DA
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Abstract The postcoital test has poor diagnostic and prognostic characteristics. Nevertheless, some physicians believe it can identify scanty or abnormal mucus that might impair fertility. One way to avoid "hostile" cervical mucus is intrauterine insemination. With this technique, the physician injects sperm directly into the uterine cavity through a small catheter passed through the cervix; the theory is to bypass the "hostile" cervical mucus. Although most gynecologic societies do not endorse use of intrauterine insemination for hostile cervical mucus, some physicians consider it an effective treatment for women with infertility thought the result of cervical mucus problems. The aim of this review was to determine the effectiveness of intrauterine insemination with or without ovarian stimulation in women with cervical hostility who failed to conceive.We searched Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) on The Cochrane Library Issue 2, 2005, MEDLINE (1966 to June 2005), EMBASE (1980 to June 2005), POPLINE (to June 2005), and LILACS (to June 2005). In addition, we contacted experts and searched the reference list of relevant articles and book chapters. We included randomized and quasirandomized, controlled trials comparing intrauterine insemination with intercourse timed at the presumed fertile period. Participants were women with cervical hostility who failed to conceive for at least 1 year. We assessed the titles and abstracts of 386 publications and 2 reviewers independently abstracted data on methods and results from 5 studies identified for inclusion. The main outcome is pregnancy rate per couple. We did not pool the outcomes of the included 5 studies in a meta-analysis resulting from the methodological quality of the trials and variations in the patient characteristics and interventions. Narrative summaries of the outcomes are provided. Each study was too small for a clinically relevant conclusion. None of the studies provided information on important outcomes such as spontaneous abortion, multiple pregnancies, and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. There is no evidence from the published studies that intrauterine insemination is an effective treatment for cervical hostility. Given the poor diagnostic and prognostic properties of the postcoital test and the observation that the test has no benefit on pregnancy rates, intrauterine insemination (with or without ovarian stimulation) is unlikely to be a useful treatment for putative problems identified by postcoital testing. TARGET AUDIENCE: Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians. LEARNING OBJECTIVES: After completion of this article, the reader should be able to recall that there is a lack of adequate studies that support that intrauterine insemination (IUI) is an effective treatment of cervical hostility, explain that the postcoital test has poor diagnostic and prognostic properties, and state that the use of both tests has no benefit on pregnancy rates. EDITOR'S NOTE: Although many assisted reproductive technology (ART) programs no longer perform postcoital tests, many perform intrauterine insemination (IUI), often with gonadotropins or clomiphene citrate, in their subfertile patients. Therefore, this review article will be of value to our readers who treat subfertile patients with IUI, whether or not they perform postcoital tests. For additional explanations of the statistical tests employed in this review, see D. Grimes, KF Schulz, Obstetrical and Gynecologic Survey, 57; Supplement 3: S35, September 2002; and D. Grimes, KF Schulz, Obstetrical and Gynecologic Survey, Supplement 2, S53-S69, September 2005.-RBJ.
This article was published in Obstet Gynecol Surv
and referenced in Gynecology & Obstetrics