Evaluation and treatment of infertility is considered medicaly necessary and maybe submitted for reinbursement as per policy coverage.
Policy Guidelines Females: Basic Infertility Services
The following services may be considered medically necessary for diagnosis and/or treatment of infertility.
History and physical examination
History and physical examination, basal body temperature
Laboratory studies that may be necessary:
Anti-adrenal antibodies for apparently spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)
Anti-sperm antibodies (e.g., immunobead or mixed antiglobulin method)
Chlamydia trachomatis screening
Post-coital testing (PCT) (Simms-Huhner test) of cervical mucus
Testing for viral status (HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C)
Serum hormone levels
Androgens (testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) if there is evidence of hyperandrogenism (e.g., hirsuitism, acne, signs of virilization) or ovulatory dysfunction
Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), for the following indications: a) assessing menopausal status, including premature ovarian failure; b) assessing ovarian status, including ovarian reserve and ovarian responsiveness, as part of an evaluation for infertility and assisted reproduction protocols such as in vitro fertilization.
Gonadotropins (serum follicle-stimuating hormone [FSH], luteinizing hormone [LH]) for women with irregular menstrual cycles
Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG)
Prolactin for women with an ovulatory disorder, galactorrhea, or a pituitary tumor
Progestins (progesterone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone) Estrogens (estradiol) (see Appendix for medical necessity limitations)
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) for women with symptoms of thyroid disease
Adrenocortitrophic hormone (ACTH) for ruling out Cushing’s syndrome or Addison’s disease in women who are amenorrheic
Diagnostic procedures that may be considered medically necessary:
CT or MR imaging of sella turcica is considered medically necessary if prolactin is elevated
Hysterosalpingography (hysterosalpingogram (HSG)) or hysterosalpingo-contrast-ultrasonography to screen for tubal occlusion. Hysteroscopy, salpingoscopy (falloscopy), hydrotubation where clinically indicated
Laparoscopy and chromotubation (contrast dye) to assess tubal and other pelvic pathology, and to follow-up on hysterosalpingography abnormalities
Sonohysterography to evaluate the uterus
Ultrasound (e.g., ovarian, transvaginal, pelvic.
Monitoring of ovarian response to ovulatory stimulants:
Serial ovarian ultrasounds are considered medically necessary for cycle monitoring .
1. The following non-surgical treatments are considered medically necessary:
Aromatase inhibitors (e.g., anastrozole [Arimidex], exemestane [Aromasin], and letrozole [Femara])
Corticosteroids (e.g., dexamethasone, prednisone)
Estrogens (e.g., estradiol)
Hepatitis B vaccination of partners of people with hepatitis B
Lutropin alfa (Luveris) for use in combination with human FSH to stimulate follicular development in infertile hypo-gonadotropic hypo-gonadal women or in women with a profound LH deficiency defined as LH less than 1.2 International Units/L
Metformin (Glucophage) for women with WHO Group II anovulatory disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome
Progestins (oral, topical gel (8 % progesterone) (Crinone 8 %, Prochieve 8 %) or intramuscular progestins and progesterone vaginal suppositories (Endometrin), Prometrium (micronized progesterone.
Prolactin inhibitors (bromocriptine (Parlodel), cabergoline (Dostinex), peroglide (Permax)) for women with ovulatory disorders due to hyperprolactinemia
Rubella vaccination of women susceptible to rubella
Tamoxifen (Novaldex) or oral clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene) for ovulation induction.
Hysteroscopic adhesiolysis for women with amenorrhea who are found to have intrauterine adhesions
Hysteroscopic or fluoroscopic tubal cannulation (salpingostomy, fimbrioplasty), selective salpingography plus tubal catheterization, or transcervical balloon tuboplasty for women with proximal tubal obstruction.
Laparoscopic cystectomy for women with ovarian endometriomas
Laparoscopy for treatment of pelvic pathology
Open or laparoscopic resection, vaporization, or fulguration of endometriosis implants plus adhesiolysis in women with endometriosis
Removal of myomas, uterine septa, cysts, ovarian tumors, and polyps
Surgical tubal reconstruction (unilateral or bilateral tubal microsurgery, laparoscopic tubal surgery, tuboplasty and tubal anastomosis) for women with mid or distal tubal occlusion and for women with proximal tubal disease where tubal cannulation has failed or where severe proximal tubal disease precludes the likelihood of successful cannulation
Tubal ligation (salpingectomy) for women with hydrosalpinges who are contemplating in vitro fertilization, as this has been demonstrated to improve the chance of a live birth before in-vitro fertilization treatment
Gonadotropin releasing hormone
Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) (luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHR-H)) by intermittent subcutaneous injections or by GnRH infusion
Gonadorelin (Synarel, Factrel)
May be considered medically necessary for the following indications:
For use, in addition to gonadotropin stimulation, in pituitary down-regulation as part of in-vitro fertilization treatment Pulsatile administration of gonadotropin-releasing hormone is considered medically necessary in women with WHO Group I ovulation disorders (hypothalamic pituitary failure, characterized by hypothalamic amenorrhea or hypogonadotropic hypogonadism)
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (A.P.L., Novarel, Pregnyl, Ovidrel, Chorex, Choron)
Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) (menotropins) (LH and FSH) (Menopur, Repronex)
Urofollitropins (human FSH) (Fertinex, Bravelle) and recombinant follitropin (recombinant FSH) (Follitropin alfa (Gonal-F); Follitropin beta (Follistim
Clomiphene plus gonadotropins may be considered medically necessary in women who do not ovulate using clomiphene alone
For use in pituitary down-regulation as part of in-vitro fertilization
Pulsatile administration of gonadotropins are considered medically necessary for women with WHO Group I ovulation disorders (hypothalamic pituitary failure, characterized by hypothalamic amenorrhea or hypogonadotropic hypogonadism)
Males: Infertility Services
The following services may be considered medically necessary for diagnosis and/or treatment of infertility in men:
History and physical examination
History and physical examination
Anti-sperm antibodies (e.g., immunobead or mixed antiglobulin method)
Serum hormone levels
Adrenal cortical stimulating hormone (ACTH)
Androgens (testosterone, free testosterone) – if initial testosterone level is low, a repeat measurement of total and free testosterone as well as serum luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin levels is medically necessary
Estrogens (e.g., estradiol, estrone)
Gonadotropins (FSH, LH)
Growth hormone (GH)
Prolactin for men with reduced sperm counts, galactorrhea, or pituitary tumors
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHGB) for men with signs and symptoms of hypogonadism and low normal testosterone levels. (SHGB is not indicated in the routine evaluation of male infertility)
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) for men with symptoms of thyroid disease.
Semen analysis (volume, pH, liquefaction time, sperm concentration, total sperm number, motility (forward progression), motile sperm per ejaculate, vitality, round cell differentiation (white cells versus germinal), morphology, viscosity, agglutination) is considered medically necessary for the evaluation of infertility in men. Because of the marked inherent variability of semen analyses, an abnormal result should be confirmed by at least one additional sample collected one or more weeks after the first sample.
Semen leukocyte analysis
Semen leukocyte analysis (e.g., Endtz test, immunohistochemical staining)
Blood test for cytogenetic analysis
Blood test for cytogenetic analysis (karyotype and FISH) in men with severe deficits of semen quality or azoospermia (for consideration of ICSI)
Cystic fibrosis mutation testing
Cystic fibrosis mutation testing in men with congenital absence of vas deferens
Y chromosome microdeletion analysis
Y chromosome microdeletion analysis in men with severe deficits of semen quality or azoospermia (for consideration of ICSI). Note: Y chromosome microdeletion analysis is not routinely indicated before ICSI, and is subject to medical necessity review
Post-coital test (PCT)
Post-coital test (PCT) (Simms-Huhner test) of cervical mucus
Sperm function tests:
c. Sperm penetration assay (zona-free hamster egg penetration test)
Testing for viral status
Testing for viral status (HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C)
2. CT or MR imaging of sella turcica if prolactin is elevated
3. Scrotal exploration
4. Scrotal (testicular) ultrasound)
5. Testicular biopsy
6. Transrectal ultrasound
. Androgens (testosterone) for persons with documented androgen deficiency
a. Anti-estrogens (tamoxifen (Nolvadex)) for men with elevated estrogen levels
b. Clomiphene (Clomid, Serophene)
c. Corticosteroids (e.g., dexamethasone, prednisone)
d. Prolactin inhibitors (bromocriptine (Parlodel), cabergoline (Dostinex)) for persons with hyperprolactinemia
e. Thyroid hormone replacement for men with thyroid deficiency.
Injectable Endocrine Management:
Human chorionic gonadotropins (hCG) (Novarel, Pregnyl) may be considered medically necessary for the following indications: 1) male infertility due to hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (select cases of hypogonadism secondary to pituitary deficiency); or 2) prepubertal cryptorchidism not due to anatomic obstruction.
Human menopausal gonadotropins (hMG) (menotropins) (Menopur, Repronex) may be considered medically necessary for use with human chorionic gonadotropin for the induction of spermatogenesis in men with primary and secondary hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in whom the cause of infertility is not due to primary testicular failure.
Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) (luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH)), by intermittent subcutaneous injections or by GnRH infusion pump, may be considered medically necessary for men with infertility due to hypogonadotropic hypogonadism
Urofollitropins (human FSH) (Bravelle) and recombinant follitropin products (recombinant FSH) (follitropin alfa (Gonal-F, Gonal-F RFF); follitropin beta (Follistim, Follistim AQ) may be considered medically necessary for use with human chorionic gonadotropin for the induction of spermatogenesis in men with primary and secondary hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in whom the cause of infertility is not due to primary testicular failure.
Varicocelectomy (spermatic vein ligation)
Varicocelectomy (spermatic vein ligation
Spermatocelectomy and hydrocelectomy
Spermatocelectomy and hydrocelectomy
Surgical repair of vas deferens
Surgical repair of vas deferens: vasovasostomy
Surgical correction of epididymal blockage
Surgical correction of epididymal blockage for men with obstructive azoospermia.
g. Excision of epididymal tumors and cysts
Transurethral resection of ejaculatory ducts
Transurethral resection of ejaculatory ducts (TURED) for obstruction of ejaculatory ducts
Alpha sympathomimetic agents
Alpha sympathomimetic agents (for retrograde ejaculation) (e.g., phenylephrine, imipramine)
For impotence treatments
Artificial insemination (intra-cervical insemination or intra-uterine insemination [IUI]) may be medically necessary for infertile couples with mild male-factor fertility problems, unexplained infertility problems, minimal to mild endometriosis, medically refractory erectile dysfunction or vaginismus preventing intercourse, couples where the man is HIV positive and undergoing sperm washing, or couples undergoing menotropin ovarian stimulation.
Clomiphene-citrate-stimulated artificial insemination (intra-cervical insemination or IUI) may be medically necessary for infertile women with WHO Group II ovulation disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome who ovulate with clomiphene citrate but have not become pregnant after ovulation induction with clomiphene.
Donor insemination is considered medically necessary for the following indications:
Severe deficits in semen quality in couples who do not wish to undergo intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
Severe rhesus isoimmunization
Where there is a high risk of transmitting a genetic disorder in the male partner to the offspring
Where there is a high risk of transmitting an infectious disease (such as HIV) to the partner or offspring.
Advanced Reproductive Technology
The following Advanced Reproductive Technologies (ART) procedures may be considered medically necessary for women with infertility that meet any of the following criteria:
Women who have failed to conceive after a trial of ovarian stimulation:
For women 37 years of age or younger, six cycles of ovarian stimulation (with or without intrauterine insemination); or
For women 38 to 39 years of age, three cycles of ovarian stimulation (with or without IUI); or
For women 40 years of age or older, no trial of ovarian stimulation is required; or
Couples for whom natural or artificial insemination would not be expected to be effective and ART would be expected to be the only effective treatment, including:
Men with azoospermia or severe deficits in semen quality or quantity (see Appendix); or
Women with tubal factor infertility:
Bilateral tubal disease (e.g., tubal obstruction, absence, or hydrosalpinges).
Endometriosis stage 3 or 4 (see appendix).
Failure to conceive after pelvic surgery with restoration of normal pelvic anatomy
After trying to conceive for 6 months if less than 40 years of age;
After trying to conceive for 3 months if 40 years of age or older.
Infertility resulting from ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy occurring during infertility treatment.
Unilateral hydrosalpinx with failure to conceive:
After trying to conceive for 12 months if less than 40 years of age;
After trying to conceive for 6 months if 40 years of age or older.
Inadvertent ovarian hyperstimulation (estradiol level was greater than 1,000 pg/ml plus greater than 3 follicles greater than 16 mm or 4 to 8 follicles greater than 14 mm or a larger number of smaller follicles) during preparation for a planned stimulated cycle in women less than 40 years of age.
IVF with embryo transfer is may be considered medically necessary when criteria for ART are met. IVF with embryo transfer includes:
1. Embryo transfer (transcervical transfer back to the donor) (including cryopreserved embryo transfer)
Frozen embryo transfer (FET) (Note: It may be considered medically necessary to freeze embryos not transferred during a stimulated IVF treatment cycle, and to transfer the embryos before the next stimulated treatment cycle because this will minimize ovulation induction and egg collection, both of which carry risks for the woman and use more resources. Before proceeding to a fresh ART oocyte, previously frozen oocytes must be used (i.e. fertilized and transferred). Similarly, Before proceeding to the next fresh ART cycle, FET using cryopreserved embryos must be used if an adequate number of cryopreserved embryos of a similar developmental stage are available (see Appendix)
Oocyte (egg) insemination in laboratory dish
Oocyte (egg) retrieval via laparoscope or transvaginal needle aspiration of follicles
Sperm preparation and capacitation
Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is medically necessary where there is azoospermia or oligospermia (obstructive or non-obstructive), severe deficits in semen quality or quantity (see Appendix), to fertilize frozen oocytes for in vitro fertilization, or for couples where a previous IVF treatment cycle has resulted in failed or poor (see Appendix) fertilization.
Assisted hatching is considered medically necessary when the plan in the cycle is to transfer the embryos into the uterus and the member meets any of the following criteria:
Age is 38 years or older; or
Multiple (2 or more) failed embryo transfer attempts; or
Thickened zona pellucida.
Gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT) may be considered medically necessary as an alternative to IVF for women with female factor infertility. GIFT includes:
Immediate loading of the eggs into a transfer catheter with sperm and insertion into the member’s fallopian tube via the same laparoscope (the member must have at least 1 patent fallopian tube for this method to be an effective treatment for infertility)
Oocyte (egg) retrieval via laparoscope.
Zygote intra-fallopian transfer (ZIFT), tubal embryo transfer (TET), pronuclear stage tubal embryo transfer (PROUST) is considered medically necessary as an alternative to IVF for women with female factor infertility.
ZIFT is considered experimental and investigational for persons with male factor infertility or unexplained infertility problems because there is insufficient evidence to recommend ZIFT over IVF for these indications.
Specialized sperm retrieval techniques (including vasal sperm aspiration, microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA), percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA), electroejaculation, testicular sperm aspiration (TESA), microsurgical testicular sperm extraction (TESE), seminal vesicle sperm aspiration, and sperm recovery from bladder or urine for retrograde ejaculation) are considered medically necessary to overcome anejaculation or azoospermia.
Oocyte donation is considered medically necessary for managing infertility problems associated with the following conditions, when the infertile member is the intended recipient of the resulting embryos:
1. Bilateral oophorectomy;
2. Gonadal dysgenesis including Turner syndrome;
3. High-risk of transmitting a genetic disorder from the female partner to the offspring;
4. IVF treatment failure
5. Ovarian failure following chemotherapy or radiotherapy; or
6. Premature ovarian failure (failure of ovulation in woman younger than 40 years of age) (considered medically necessary until the woman with POF is 45 years of age).
A. The IVF procedure to cryopreserve mature gametes (oocytes or sperm) or embryos is considered medically necessary for use in persons facing iatrogenic infertility due to chemotherapy, pelvic radiotherapy, other gonadotoxic therapies, or ovary or testicle removal for treatment of disease. Routine use of gamete cryopreservation in lieu of embryo cryopreservation, gamete cryopreservation to circumvent reproductive aging in healthy persons, cryopreservation of immature gametes, and laser-assisted necrotic blastomere removal from cryopreserved embryos are considered experimental and investigational. Note: Some Aetna plans have a specific contractual exclusion of coverage of any charges associated with embryo cryopreservation or storage of cryopreserved embryos
B. Cryopreservation of sperm is considered medically necessary in men facing iatrogenic infertility due to chemotherapy, pelvic radiotherapy, other gonadotoxic therapies, or testicular removal for treatment of disease. Sperm cryopreservation to circumvent reproductive aging in healthy men is considered experimental and investigational. Note: Some Aetna plans have a specific contractual exclusion of coverage of any charges associated with sperm cryopreservation or storage. Please check benefit plan descriptions. In addition, cryopreservation of sperm (other than cryopreserved sperm in men facing infertility due to chemotherapy or other gonadotoxic therapies or gonad removal) is not considered treatment of disease and is not covered.
BlueCard/National Account Issues
Infertility is a condition that is defined by the failure to achieve successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of unprotected heterosexual intercourse (after six months in women over 35 years of age) OR in those women, without a male partner, who are unable to conceive after at least 12 cycles of donor insemination (six cycles for women over 35 years of age).
The term primary infertility is applied to a couple who has never achieved a pregnancy; secondary infertility implies that at least one previous conception has taken place. This condition may be present in one or both sexual partners and may be reversible.
Diagnostic investigation of infertility includes complete physical examinations and certain testing for both partners. Infertility treatment may involve a series of procedures in an attempt to correct the cause of infertility.
Recurrent pregnancy loss is distinct from infertility is defined by two or more pregnancy losses. For purposes of determining when evaluation and treatment for infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss are appropriate, pregnancy is defined as a clinical pregnancy documented by ultrasonography or histopathologic examination.
No fertility treatment other than oocyte donation has been shown to be effective for women over 40 years of age with compromised ovarian reserve. Elevated follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol levels are independent predictors of poor prognosis in older women. Common criteria for normal ovarian reserve are an early follicular phase FSH level of less than 10 mIU/ml and an estradiol level of less than 80 pg/ml (ASRM, 2002). Higher cut-off values for FSH have been reported (as high as 20 to 25 mIU/ml for FSH) because of the use of different FSH assay reference standards. Women with diminished ovarian reserve experience decreased responses to ovulation induction, require higher doses of gonadotropin, have higher in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle cancellation rates, and experience lower pregnancy rates through IVF.
Serum FSH is a marker of ovarian responsiveness. Ovarian responsiveness is determined by measurement of an unmedicated day 3 FSH obtained within the prior 6 months if the woman is older than age 35 or in the prior 12 months if the individual is age 35 or younger. In women greater than age 40, any single FSH greater than 19mIU/mL, regardless of subsequent test results that may be lower than 19mIU/mL, are indicative of ovarian insufficiency. In women less than age 40, ovarian responsiveness is demonstrated by any unmedicated day 3 FSH of less than 19mIU/ml. Younger women with a day 3 FSH less than 19mIU/ml have the capacity to respond to ovarian stimulation, even if they have had other day 3 FSH measurements greater than 19 mIU/mL.
Guidelines from the Society for Reproductive Medicine and Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (Pfeifer et a., 2013) recommend that oocyte cryopreservation with appropriate counseling is recommended in patients facing infertility due to chemotherapy or other gonadotoxic therapies. The guidelines state that more widespread clinic-specific data on the safety and efficacy of oocyte cryopreservation in donor populations are needed before universal donor oocyte banking can be recommended. The guidelines state that there are not yet sufficient data to recommend oocyte cryopreservation for the sole purpose of circumventing reproductive aging in healthy women. The guidelines state that more data are needed before this technology should be used routinely in lieu of embryo cryopreservation.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) practice bulletin on bariatric surgery and pregnancy (2009) stated that bariatric surgery should not be considered a treatment for infertility.
Although anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels appears to be associated with declining ovarian function, there is no consensus on the appropriate threshold value. An assessment by the Institute for Clinical and Health Policy (Pichon-Riviere, et al., 2009) found no clear evidence on the usefulness of AMH in the assisted reproduction program clinical practice setting. The assessment found less evidence for the utility of AMH in other clinical practice settings. Guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (2012) concluded «There is mounting evidence to support the use of AMH as a screening test for poor ovarian response, but more data are needed. There is emerging evidence to suggest that a low AMH level (e.g., undetectable AMH) has high specificity as a screen for poor ovarian response but insufficient evidence to suggest its use to screen for failure to conceive.»
More recently, the ASRM (2015) concluded: «AMH is a promising screening test and is likely to be more useful in the general ICVF population or in women at high risk for DOR than in women at low risk for DOR. Low AMH cutpoints are fairly specific for poor ovarian reserve, but not for pregnancy. Future studies of AHM as a screening test should incorporate larger numbers of subjects in a high-risk or general risk IVF population. The use of AMH as a routine screening tool for DOR in a low-risk population is not recommended.»
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG, 2015) concluded: «For general obstetrician-gynecologists, the most appropriate ovarian reserve screening tests to use in practice are basal follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) plus estradiol levels or antimullerian hormone (commonly known as AHM) levels. An antral follicle count, commonly known as AFC, also may be useful if there is an indication to perform transvaginal ultrasonography.» The guidelines state that antimullerian hormone level testing is a useful test in women at high risk of diminished ovarian reserve and in women undergoing IVF but has limited benefits in someone at low risk of diminished ovarian reserve.
Current Endocrine Society guidelines on polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) (Lego, et al., 2013) have no recommendation for antimullerian hormone. The guidelines note that «it is possible» that antimullerian hormone may serve as a noninvasive screening or diagnostic test for PCOS in the adolescent population, although there are no well-defined cutoffs. In discussing PCOS in the perimenopausal and menopausal population, the guidelines note that AMH levels decrease with normal aging in women with and without PCOS, but the guidelines make no recommendation for AMH testing in this population.
Steiner (2009) stated that serum and urinary markers of ovarian reserve — follicular phase inhibin B, FSH, and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels — are physiologically associated with ovarian aging, decline with chronologic age, and appear to predict later stages of reproductive aging including the menopause transition and menopause. In infertile women, they can be used to predict low oocyte yield and treatment failure in women undergoing IVF. These markers seem to be affected by common ovarian toxicants, such as smoking, which advance the age at menopause. Although available for commercial use, home test kits have not been shown to predict fertility or infertility in the general population. Clinical use of these markers is limited by the variety of assays, lack of definitive thresholds, and their intercycle variability in older women. Results should be conveyed with caution when highly discrepant with age, in the obese, and in women with irregular menstrual cycles. The author stated that further research is needed to assess their predictive value for determining fertility in the general population.
Nardo et al (2009) evaluated the clinical value of basal AMH measurements compared with other available determinants, apart from chronologic age, in the prediction of ovarian response to gonadotrophin stimulation. Women undergoing their first cycle of controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) for IVF were subject of this study. Basal levels of FSH and AMH as well as antral follicle count (AFC) were measured in 165 subjects. All patients were followed prospectively and their cycle outcomes recorded. Main outcome measures included predictive value of FSH, AMH, and AFC for extremes of ovarian response to stimulation. Out of the 165 women, 134 were defined as normal responders, 15 as poor responders, and 16 as high responders. Subjects in the poor response group were significantly older then those in the other 2 groups. Anti-Müllerian hormone levels and AFC were markedly raised in the high responders and decreased in the poor responders. Compared with FSH and AFC, AMH performed better in the prediction of excessive response to ovarian stimulation-AMH area under receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC(AUC)) 0.81, FSH ROC(AUC) 0.66, AFC ROC(AUC) 0.69. For poor response, AMH (ROC(AUC) 0.88) was a significantly better predictor than FSH (ROC(AUC) 0.63) but not AFC (ROC(AUC) 0.81). Anti-Mullerian hormone prediction of ovarian response was independent of age and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Anti-Mullerian hormone cutoffs of greater than 3.75 ng/ml and less than 1.0 ng/ml would have modest sensitivity and specificity in predicting the extremes of response. The authors concluded that circulating AMH has the ability to predict excessive and poor response to stimulation with exogenous gonadotrophins. Overall, this biomarker is superior to basal FSH and AFC, and has the potential to be incorporated in to work-up protocols to predict patient’s ovarian response to treatment and to individualize strategies aiming at reducing the cancellation rate and the iatrogenic complications of COH.
Su and associates (2010) examined if AMH and inhibin B were impacted by breast cancer treatment by comparing cancer survivors to age-matched control women and determined the association between these hormones and post-chemotherapy menstrual pattern. Breast cancer patients (n = 127) with American Joint Committee on Cancer stage I to III disease who were pre-menopausal at diagnosis were enrolled post-chemotherapy and observed. The primary end point was chemotherapy-related amenorrhea (CRA) (greater than or equal to 12 months of amenorrhea following chemotherapy). Matched pair analyses compared AMH, inhibin B, and FSH levels between cancer and age-matched control subjects. Associations between hormones, CRA status, and change in CRA status over time were assessed. The median age of the patients at chemotherapy was 43.2 years (range of 26.7 to 57.8 years). At enrollment, median follow-up since chemotherapy was 2.1 years, and 55 % of subjects had CRA. Compared with age-matched controls, cancer subjects had significantly lower AMH (p = 0.004) and inhibin B (p < 0.001) and higher FSH (p < 0.001). Inhibin B (p = 0.001) and AMH (p = 0.002) were found to be significantly associated with risk of CRA, even after controlling for FSH. Anti-mullerian hormone was significantly lower (p = 0.03) and FSH was significantly higher (p = 0.04) in menstruating subjects who developed subsequent CRA. The authors concluded that AMH and inhibin B are 2 additional measures of post-chemotherapy ovarian function in late reproductive-aged breast cancer survivors. They stated that with further research and validation, these hormones may supplement limited current tools for assessing and predicting post-chemotherapy ovarian function. In a Cochrane review, Duffy et al (2010) the effectiveness of adjuvant growth hormone (GH) in IVF protocols. These investigators searched the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Groups trials register (June 2009), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Cochrane Library Issue 2, 2009), MEDLINE (1966 to June 2009), EMBASE (1988 to June 2009) and Biological Abstracts (1969 to June 2009). All randomized controlled trials were included if they addressed the research question and provided outcome data for intervention and control participants. Assessment of trial risk of bias and extraction of relevant data was performed independently by 2 reviewers. A total of 10 studies (440 subfertile couples) were included. Results of the meta-analysis demonstrated no difference in outcome measures and adverse events in the routine use of adjuvant GH in IVF protocols. However, meta-analysis demonstrated a statistically significant difference in both live birth rates and pregnancy rates favoring the use of adjuvant GH in IVF protocols in women who are considered poor responders without increasing adverse events, OR 5.39, 95 % CI: 1.89 to 15.35 and OR 3.28, 95 % CI: 1.74 to 6.20 respectively. The authors concluded that although the use of GH in poor responders has been found to show a significant improvement in live birth rates, they were unable to identify which sub-group of poor responders would benefit the most from adjuvant GH. The result needs to be interpreted with caution, the included trials were few in number and small sample size. Thus, before recommending GH adjuvant in IVF, further research is needed to fully define its role. Guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (2012) concluded that "inhibin B is not a reliabe measure of ovarian reserve" and that "the routine use of inhibin B as a measure of ovarian reserve is not recommended." In a meta-analysis, Toulis et al (2010) evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of inhibin B and AMH as markers of persistent spermatogenesis in men with non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA). A search was conducted in the electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from inception through June 2009. A total of 36 different studies reported data on the predictive value of 1 or more index markers (serum inhibin B: 32 studies, seminal inhibin B: 5 studies, serum AMH: 2 studies, seminal AMH: 4 studies) and were included in the systematic review. Nine studies, which had serum inhibin B as index marker, met the predefined criteria and were included in the meta-analysis. Serum inhibin B showed a sensitivity of 0.65 (95 % CI: 0.56 to 0.74) and a specificity of 0.83 (CI: 0.64 to 0.93) for the prediction of the presence of sperm in testicular sperm extraction (TESE). When the pre-test probability of 41 % was incorporated in a Fagan's nomogram, resulted in a positive post-test probability of 73 % and a negative post-test probability of 23 % for the presence of sperm in TESE. The authors concluded that serum inhibin B can not serve as a stand-alone marker of persistent spermatogenesis in men with NOA. Although limited, evidence on serum AMH and serum/seminal AMH do not support their diagnostic value in men with NOA. Steiner et al (2011) generated estimates of the association between markers of ovarian aging and natural fertility in a community sample at risk for ovarian aging. Women aged 30 to 44 years with no history of infertility who had been trying to conceive for less than 3 months provided early-follicular phase serum and urine (n = 100). Subsequently, these women kept a diary to record menstrual bleeding and intercourse and conducted standardized pregnancy testing for up to 6 months. Serum was analyzed for estradiol, FSH, AMH, and inhibin B. Urine was analyzed for FSH and estrone 3-glucuronide. Diary data on menstrual cycle day and patterns of intercourse were used to calculate day-specific fecundability ratios. Sixty-three percent of participants conceived within 6 months. After adjusting for age, 18 women (18 %) with serum AMH levels of 0.7 ng/ml or less had significantly reduced fecundability given intercourse on a fertile day compared with women with higher AMH levels (fecundability ratio 0.38; 95 % CI: 0.08 to 0.91). The day-specific fecundability for women with early-follicular phase serum FSH values greater than 10 mIU/ml compared with women with lower FSH levels was also reduced, although nonsignificantly (11 % of women affected; fecundability ratio 0.44; 95 % CI: 0.08 to 1.10). The association with urinary FSH was weaker (27 % women affected; fecundability ratio 0.61; 95 % CI: 0.26 to 1.26), and the associations for the other markers were weaker still. The authors concluded that early-follicular phase AMH appears to be associated with natural fertility in the general population. Moreover, they stated that larger studies are needed to confirm these findings and to explore the way the different endocrine markers interact as potential joint predictors of fertility. In a meta-analysis, Polyzos and associates (2010) examined the effect of double versus single intra-uterine insemination (IUI) per treatment cycle in women with unexplained infertility. Main outcome measure was clinical pregnancy rates per couple. Electronic searches of the Cochrane Central Trials Registry and Medline without year and language restriction through March 2009 were performed; hand searching of the abstract books of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology and American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meetings (2001 to 2008) was carried out. A total of 6 randomized trials, involving 829 women, were included in the analysis. Fifty-four (13.6 %) clinical pregnancies were recorded for treatment with double IUI and 62 (14.4 %) for treatment with single IUI. There was no significant difference between the single and double IUI groups in the probability for clinical pregnancy (OR, 0.92; 95 % CI: 0.58 to 1.45; p = 0.715). The authors concluded that double IUI offers no clear benefit in the overall clinical pregnancy rate in couples with unexplained infertility. Guercini et al (2005) reported that in chronic prostatitis there are many causes that may provoke a therapeutical failure of a systemic antibiotic treatment. At the moment a consensus has not been reached on the effectiveness of the many therapeutical options that are available with not one of these approaches being effective in all patients. In the authors' view the main causes of treatment failure are the well-known hurdle to antibiotic diffusion inside the glandular parenchyma associated with the so-called intra-prostatic bacterial biofilms and the possible presence of local auto-immune reactions. Given this background, these researchers tested ultrasound-guided intra-prostate infiltration of a cocktail of antibiotics and betamethasone, for a therapeutical options. A total of 320 patients, referred for treatment because of symptoms indicative of chronic prostatitis, were enrolled in this study. The inclusion criteria were the severity of the symptoms and the failure of repeated cycles of antibiotics in the previous 12 months. At the initial consultation patients completed the NIH Prostatitis Symptoms Index (NIH-CPSI). All underwent: (i) digital rectal examination (DRE), (ii) transrectal prostatic ultrasound scan (TRUS), (iii) uroflowmetry, (iv) cultures of first voiding and after prostatic massage urine and cultures of sperm for saprophytic and pathogen germs, yeasts and protozoa, (v) DNA amplification with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on urine and sperm, for Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasmas (Ureaplasma urealyticum and Mycoplasma hominis), Gonococcus, HPV and HCV. Patients on the basis of laboratory results received a cocktail of antibiotics associated with betamethasone. The cocktail was administered as prostate infiltration. Administration was repeated after 7 and 14 days. Final assessment of the effectiveness of therapy included not only the NIH-CPSI scores but also the patient's subjective judgement expressed as a "percentage overall improvement". The percentage judgements were arbitrarily divided into 4 classes: (i) 0 to 30 %: no improvement (Class I); (ii) 30 to 50 %: satisfactory improvement (Class II); (iii) 50 to 80 %: good improvement (Class III); and (iv) 80 to 100 %: cured (Class IV). Statistical analysis of the results showed 68 % of patients were included in the Class IV and 13 % were non-responders (Class I). The authors concluded that this is one of the more valid therapeutical approaches to chronic bacterial or abacterial prostatitis; but it also required more studies. McGrath et al (2009) stated that cycle-dependent fluctuations in natural killer (NK) cell populations in endometrium and circulation may differ, contributing to unexplained infertility. They conducted a study whereby NK cell phenotypes were determined by flow cytometry in endometrial biopsies and matched blood samples. While circulating and endometrial T cell populations remained constant throughout the menstrual cycle in fertile and infertile women, circulating NK cells in infertile women increased during the secretory phase. However, increased expression of CD94, CD158b (secretory phase), and CD158a (proliferative phase) by endometrial NK cells from infertile women was observed. These changes were not reflected in the circulation. In infertile women, changes in circulating NK cell percentages were found exclusively during the secretory phase and not in endometrium; cycle-related changes in NK receptor expression were observed only in infertile endometrium. While having exciting implications for understanding NK cell function in fertility, these data emphasized the difficulty in attaching diagnostic or prognostic significance to NK cell analyses in individual patients. Winger et al (2011) examined if quantification of peripheral blood Treg cell levels could be used as an indicator of miscarriage risk in newly pregnant women with a history of immunologic reproductive failure. A total of 54 pregnant women with a history of immunologic infertility and/or pregnancy loss were retrospectively evaluated (mean age of 36.7 +/- 4.9 years, 2.8 +/- 2.5 previous miscarriages; 1.5 +/- 1.9 previous IVF failures). Twenty-three of these women experienced another first trimester miscarriage, and 31 of these women continued their current pregnancies past 12 weeks ("pregnancy success"). The following immunologic parameters were assessed in the first trimester: NK cell 50:1 cytotoxicity, CD56(+) 16(+) CD3(-) (NK), CD56(+) CD3(+) (NKT), TNFα/IL-10, IFNγ/IL-10, CD4(+) CD25(-) Foxp3(+), total CD4(+) Foxp3(+) (CD4(+) CD25(+) Foxp3 plus CD25(-) Foxp3(+)), and CD4(+) CD25(+) Foxp3(+) levels. Patients with successful ongoing pregnancies experienced a mean (CD4(+) CD25(+) Foxp3(+)) "Treg" level of 0.72 +/- 0.52 %, while those that miscarried in the first trimester experienced a mean Treg level of 0.37 +/- 0.29 % (p = 0.005). Markers not significantly different between the loss and success groups were NK 50:1 cytotoxicity (p = 0.63), CD56(+) 16(+) 3(+) NK cells (p = 0.63), CD56(+) 3(+) NKT (p = 0.30), TNFα(+) IL-10(+) (p = 0.13), IFNg(+) IL-10(+) (p = 0.63), and CD4(+) 25(-) Foxp3(+) cells (p = 0.10), although total CD4(+) Foxp3(+) levels remained significant (p = 0.02) and CD4(+) 25(+) Foxp3(+) showed the most significant difference (p = 0.005). Mean day of blood draw was 49.2 +/- 36.1 days pregnant (median of 39.0 days). In addition, patients with a low Treg level (less than 0.7 %) in the first trimester experienced a significantly lower ongoing pregnancy rate than those with a higher Treg level (greater than 0.7 %) in the first trimester [44 % (15/34) versus 80 % (16/20); p = 0.01]. Of the 18 successful pregnancies with sequential Treg results, 85 % (11/13) showed a T-regulatory-cell-level increase (mean Treg change 0.33 +/- 0.32), while only 40 % (2/5) of the failed pregnancies showed a Treg increase (mean Treg change -0.08 +/- 0.28; p = 0.02). The authors concluded that from these data, they proposed that CD4(+) CD25(+) Foxp3(+) T regulatory cells may serve as a superior pregnancy marker for assessing miscarriage risk in newly pregnant women. Moreover, they stated that larger follow-up studies are needed for confirmation. In a prospective, randomized controlled trial, Ben-Meir et al (2010) examined if supplementation with hCG throughout the secretory phase of hormonally modulated cycles of frozen-thawed embryos might positively affect the outcome of such cycles. Patients were randomly divided into 2 groups by the last digit of their identification number. Group A received the authors’standard protocol for endometrial preparation, whereas group B patients were given an additional 250 microg of recombinant hCG on day of progesterone (P) initiation, the day of embryo transfer, and 6 days later. Throughout the cycle, and to compare between the groups, serial ultrasound examinations and hormonal tests of E(2) and P serum levels were obtained. Main outcome measures were implantation and clinical pregnancy rates (PR). A total of 165 patients were enrolled in this study -- 78 in the control group and 87 in the hCG-treated group. Progesterone levels and endometrial thickness were similar throughout the cycle in both groups. The E(2) level was significantly higher in group B on the day of embryo transfer and 6 days later. The PRs did not differ between the 2 groups (28.2 % and 32.2 % for groups A and B, respectively). Similarly, the implantation rates were comparable between the groups (12.7 % and 14.9 %, respectively). The authors concluded that no advantage was found concerning PR and implantation rate by supplementing the secretory phase with hCG in patients undergoing transfer of frozen-thawed embryo in hormonally modulated cycles. In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Momeni et al (2011) evaluated the relationship between endometrial thickness on the day of hCG administration and pregnancy outcome in in-vitro fertilization cycles. These investigators identified 484 articles using Cochrane library, PubMed, Web of Science, and Embase searches with various key words including endometrial thickness, pregnancy, assisted reproductive technology, endometrial pattern, and in-vitro fertilization. A total of 14 studies with data on endometrial thickness and outcome were selected, representing 4,922 cycles (2,204 pregnant and 2,718 non-pregnant). The meta-analysis with a random effects model was performed using comprehensive meta-analysis software. These researchers calculated the standardized mean difference, odds ratio (OR), and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs). There was a significant difference in the mean endometrial thickness between pregnant and non-pregnant groups (p < 0.001), with a standardized mean difference of 0.4 mm (95 % CI: 0.22 to 0.58). The OR for pregnancy was 1.40 (95 % CI: 1.24 to 1.58). The authors concluded that the mean endometrial thickness was significantly higher in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant. The mean difference between 2 groups was less than 1 mm, which may not be clinically meaningful. Moreover, they stated that although there may be a relationship between endometrial thickness and pregnancy, implantation potential is probably more complex than a single ultrasound measurement can determine. van der Linden et al (2011) determined the relative safety and effectiveness of methods of luteal phase support in subfertile women undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART). These investigators searched the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group (MDSG) Specialised Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), LILACS, conference abstracts on the ISI Web of Knowledge, OpenSigle for grey literature from Europe, and ongoing clinical trials registered online. The final search was in February 2011. Randomized controlled trials of luteal phase support in ART investigating progesterone, hCG or GnRH agonist supplementation in IVF or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) cycles. Quasi-randomized trials and trials using frozen transfers or donor oocyte cycles were excluded. These researchers extracted data per women and 3 review authors independently assessed risk of bias. They contacted the original authors when data were missing or the risk of bias was unclear; and they entered all data in 6 different comparisons. These investigators calculated the Peto odds ratio (Peto OR) for each comparison. A total of 69 studies with 16,327 women were included. The authors assessed most of the studies as having an unclear risk of bias, which we interpreted as a high-risk of bias. Because of the great number of different comparisons, the average number of included studies in a single comparison was only 1.5 for live birth and 6.1 for clinical pregnancy. Five studies (746 women) compared hCG versus placebo or no treatment. There was no evidence of a difference between hCG and placebo or no treatment except for ongoing pregnancy: Peto OR 1.75 (95 % CI: 1.09 to 2.81), suggesting a benefit from hCG. There was a significantly higher risk of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) when hCG was used (Peto OR 3.62, 95 % CI: 1.85 to 7.06). There were 8 studies (875 women) in the second comparison, progesterone versus placebo or no treatment. The results suggested a significant effect in favor of progesterone for the live birth rate (Peto OR 2.95, 95 % CI: 1.02 to 8.56) based on one study. For clinical pregnancy (CPR) the results also suggested a significant result in favor of progesterone (Peto OR 1.83, 95 % CI: 1.29 to 2.61) based on seven studies. For the other outcomes the results indicated no difference in effect. The third comparison (15 studies, 2,117 women) investigated progesterone versus hCG regimens. The hCG regimens were subgrouped into comparisons of progesterone versus hCG and progesterone versus progesterone + hCG. The results did not indicate a difference of effect between the interventions, except for OHSS. Subgroup analysis of progesterone versus progesterone + hCG showed a significant benefit from progesterone (Peto OR 0.45, 95 % CI: 0.26 to 0.79). The fourth comparison (9 studies, 1,571 women) compared progesterone versus progesterone + estrogen. Outcomes were subgrouped by route of administration. The results for clinical pregnancy rate in the subgroup progesterone versus progesterone + transdermal oestrogen suggested a significant benefit from progesterone + estrogen. There was no evidence of a difference in effect for other outcomes. Six studies (1,646 women) investigated progesterone versus progesterone + GnRH agonist. These researchers subgrouped the studies for single-dose GnRH agonist and multiple-dose GnRH agonist. For the live birth, clinical pregnancy and ongoing pregnancy rate the results suggested a significant effect in favor of progesterone + GnRH agonist. The Peto OR for the live birth rate was 2.44 (95 % CI: 1.62 to 3.67), for the clinical pregnancy rate was 1.36 (95 % CI: 1.11 to 1.66) and for the ongoing pregnancy rate was 1.31 (95 % CI: 1.03 to 1.67). The results for miscarriage and multiple pregnancies did not indicate a difference of effect. The last comparison (32 studies, 9,839 women) investigated different progesterone regimens: Intra-muscular (IM) versus oral administration, IM versus vaginal or rectal administration, vaginal or rectal versus oral administration, low-dose vaginal versus high-dose vaginal progesterone administration, short protocol versus long protocol and micronized progesterone versus synthetic progesterone. The main results of this comparison did not indicate a difference of effect except in some subgroup analyses. For the outcome clinical pregnancy, subgroup analysis of micronized progesterone versus synthetic progesterone showed a significant benefit from synthetic progesterone (Peto OR 0.79, 95 % CI: 0.65 to 0.96). For the outcome multiple pregnancies, the subgroup analysis of IM progesterone versus oral progesterone suggested a significant benefit from oral progesterone (Peto OR 4.39, 95 % CI: 1.28 to 15.01). The authors concluded that this review showed a significant effect in favor of progesterone for luteal phase support, favoring synthetic progesterone over micronized progesterone. Overall, the addition of other substances such as estrogen or hCG did not seem to improve outcomes. They also found no evidence favoring a specific route or duration of administration of progesterone. These investigators found that hCG, or hCG plus progesterone, was associated with a higher risk of OHSS. The use of hCG should therefore be avoided. There were significant results showing a benefit from addition of GnRH agonist to progesterone for the outcomes of live birth, clinical pregnancy and ongoing pregnancy. For now, progesterone seems to be the best option as luteal phase support, with better pregnancy results when synthetic progesterone is used. Morley et al (2013) stated that recurrent miscarriage (RM) is defined as the loss of 3 or more consecutive pregnancies. Further research is required to understand the causes of RM, which remain unknown for many couples. Human chorionic gonadotropin is vital for maintaining the corpus luteum, but may have additional roles during implantation which support its use as a therapeutic agent for RM. In a Cochrane review, these investigators determined the efficacy of hCG in preventing further miscarriage in women with a history of unexplained RM. They searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (September 30, 2012) and reference lists of retrieved studies. Randomized controlled trials investigating the efficacy of hCG versus placebo or no treatment in preventing RM were included for analysis. Quasi-randomized trials were included. Cluster-randomized trials and trials with a cross-over design were excluded. Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion and assessed the methodological quality of each study. Date were extracted by 2 review authors and checked for accuracy. These investigators included 5 studies (involving 596 women). Meta-analysis suggested a statistically significant reduction in miscarriage rate using hCG. The number of women needed to treat to prevent subsequent pregnancy loss was 7. However, when 2 studies of weaker methodological quality were removed, there was no longer a statistically significant benefit (risk ratio 0.74; 95 % CI: 0.44 to 1.23). There were no documented adverse effects of using hCG. The authors concluded that the evidence supporting hCG supplementation to prevent RM remains equivocal. A well-designed randomized controlled trial of adequate power and methodological quality is required to determine whether hCG is beneficial in RM. Also, an UpToDate review on “Overview of treatment of female infertility” (Kuohung and Hornstein, 2014) does not mention the use of human chorionic gonadotropin as a management tool. Current guidelines recommend hCG in men only for pituitary hypogonadism to address infertility issues. It is not recommended for long-term use outside of infertility treatment. The European Association of Urology’s guidelines on “Male hypogonadism” (Dohle et al, 2012) noted that “In patients with secondary hypogonadism and fertility issues, and in selected cases of primary hypogonadism, hCG treatment can be chosen to support endogenous testosterone production for the period of infertility treatment. The dosage has to be adjusted individually to prevent suppression of FSH serum levels. hCG treatment has higher costs than testosterone treatment. There is insufficient information about the therapeutic and adverse effects of long-term hCG treatment. This type of treatment can therefore not be recommended for male hypogonadism, except in patients in whom fertility treatment is an issue”. In a Cochrane review, Siristatidis et al (2013) compared outcomes associated with in-vitro maturation (IVM) followed by IVF or ICSI versus conventional IVF or ICSI, among women with PCOS undergoing assisted reproductive technologies (ART). These searched the Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group (MDSG) Specialised Register of controlled trials to May 2013 for any relevant trials identified from the title, abstract, or keyword sections. This was followed by a search of the electronic database MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS and CINAHL, without language restriction. They also performed a manual search of the references of all retrieved articles; sought unpublished papers and abstracts submitted to international conferences, searched the clinicaltrials.gov and WHO portal registries for submitted protocols of clinical trials, and contacted experts. In addition, these researchers examined the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) fertility assessment and treatment guidelines and hand-searched reference lists of relevant articles (from 1970 to May 2013). All randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the intention to perform IVM before IVF or ICSI compared with conventional IVF or ICSI for subfertile women with PCOS. Three review authors independently assessed eligibility and quality of trials. Primary outcome measure was live birth rate per randomized woman. There were no RCTs suitable for inclusion in the review, although there are currently 3 ongoing trials that have not yet reported results. The authors concluded that although promising data on the IVM technique have been published, unfortunately there is still no evidence from RCTs upon which to base any practice recommendations regarding IVM before IVF or ICSI for women with PCOS. Furthermore, an UpToDate review on “Fertility preservation in patients undergoing gonadotoxic treatment or gonadal resection” (Sonmezer and Oktay, 2014) states that “When embryo cryopreservation is not feasible, cryopreservation of oocytes matured in vivo is a reasonable option. In vitro maturation of oocytes is an investigational procedure; implantation and ongoing pregnancy rates are lower than with conventional in vitro fertilization (IVF) using in vivo matured oocytes”. ICSI has become standard of care for fertilization of frozen oocytes in in vitro cycles despite a lack of controlled studies (see, e.g., Kazem, et al., 1995; Gook, et al., 2005; Li, et al., 2005). Gook and Edgar (2007) explained that: "In contrast to the low normal fertilization rates observed in cryopreserved mouse oocytes, higher normal fertilization rates (∼50%) were observed following insemination of human oocytes cryopreserved using the DMSO [citing Al-Hasani et al., 1987; Siebzehnruebl et al., 1989; Hunter et al., 1991; Bernard et al., 1992] and the PROH procedures [citing Al-Hasani et al., 1987; Gook et al., 1994; Serafini et al., 1995]. Further evidence that cryopreservation using the PROH procedure had no adverse affect on fertilization was demonstrated by the observation of equivalent fertilization rates (∼50%) following insemination and ICSI [citing Gook et al., 1995; Li et al., 2005]. In contrast, Kazem et al. (1995) reported a lower rate with insemination (3%) relative to ICSI (43%). Despite the fact that there is no evidence from controlled comparisons of insemination techniques to suggest that ICSI is required to fertilize human cryopreserved oocytes, it has been adopted as the method of choice in subsequent clinical studies." In contrast to the low normal fertilization rates observed in cryopreserved mouse oocytes, higher normal fertilization rates (∼50%) were observed following insemination of human oocytes cryopreserved using the DMSO (Al-Hasani et al., 1987; Siebzehnruebl et al., 1989; Hunter et al., 1991; Bernard et al., 1992) and the PROH procedures (Al-Hasani et al., 1987; Gook et al., 1994; Serafini et al., 1995). Further evidence that cryopreservation using the PROH procedure had no adverse affect on fertilization was demonstrated by the observation of equivalent fertilization rates (∼50%) following insemination and ICSI (Gook et al., 1995b; Li et al., 2005). In contrast, Kazem et al. (1995) reported a lower rate with insemination (3%) relative to ICSI (43%). Despite the fact that there is no evidence from controlled comparisons of insemination techniques to suggest that ICSI is required to fertilize human cryopreserved oocytes, it has been adopted as the method of choice in subsequent clinical studies. Chen et al (2013) stated that reactive oxygen species (ROS) are an array of molecules including oxygen-centered radicals, which are endowed with 1 or more unpaired electrons and non-radical oxygen derivatives such as hydrogen peroxide, which behave, to a large extent, like a double-edged sword in human sperm biology. These investigators reviewed the current knowledge of ROS in sperm physiology and pathology, as well as related therapies in spermatozoal dysfunction. They searched for keywords from PUBMED, including reactive oxygen species, oxidative stress, sperm function, and antioxidant therapy. Low levels of ROS exert critical function in normal sperm physiology, such as fertilizing ability (acrosome reaction, hyper-activation, capacitation, and chemotaxis) and sperm motility; while increased ROS generation and/or decreased antioxidant capacity leads to the imbalance between oxidation and reduction in living systems, which is called sperm oxidative stress. This condition was widely considered to be a significant contributory factor to sperm DNA damage/apoptosis, lipid peroxidation, and reduced motility, which in turn, increased risk of male factor infertility/subfertility and birth defects. Under the current status quo, numerous subsequent studies have concentrated on antioxidant therapy. Although utility of such a therapeutic strategy significantly improved sperm function and motility in a myriad of experimental and clinical reports, the overall effectiveness still remains controversial mainly due to non-standardized assay to measure the level of ROS and sperm DNA damage, various antioxidant supplementation strategies, and inadequate fertilization and pregnancy data after clinical treatment. Therefore, standardized assessment and evaluation of ROS and total antioxidant capacity in semen should be established to keep ROS in a physiological level and prevent over-treatment of antioxidants toward reductive stress, which should be kept in mind, especially in assisted reproductive procedure. The authors noted that the significance of large sample size populations, double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials of antioxidant therapies is emphasized in this review to achieve optimal ingredients and dosage of antioxidants for patients with reactive oxygen-induced male fertility/subfertility. Also, an UpToDate review on “Evaluation of male infertility” (Swerdloff and Wang, 2014) states that “Generation of reactive oxygen species may be a cause of sperm dysfunction and a predictor of fertilization in vitro. Reactive oxygen species lead to lipid peroxidation of the sperm membrane and are also deleterious to sperm motility. This is still regarded as a research test and is not often used for diagnosis of a specific sperm defect”. Cryopreservation of immature oocytes and in vitro maturation are considered experimental procedures. The term in vitro maturation refers to the maturation in culture of immature oocytes after their recovery from follicles that may or may not have been exposed to exogenous FSH but were not exposed to either exogenous LH or hCG prior to retrieval to induce meiotic resumption. Guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (2013) state that in vitro maturation should only be performed as an experimental procedure in specialized centers for carefully selected patients evaluatinb both efficacy and safety. The guidlines state that the intitial results of in vitro maturation suggest the potential for clinical application. However, at this time, patients must be made aware that the implantation and pregnancy rates are significantly lower than with standard IVF, limiting more universal utilization. Chighizola and de Jesus (2014) noted that since the late 1980s some publications have proposed that antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) may have some relationship with infertility, considering reported deleterious effects that aPL exert on trophoblast proliferation and growth. Although not included in current classification criteria for antiphospholipid syndrome, many physicians investigated for aPL in patients with a history of infertility, including antibodies not listed in classification criteria, and most of those patients will receive anticoagulant therapy if any of those antibodies have a result considered positive. These investigators performed a review of literature searching for studies that investigated the association of aPL and infertility and if aPL positivity alters IVF outcome. The definition of infertility, routine work-up to exclude other causes of infertility, definition of IVF failure as inclusion criteria and control populations were heterogeneous among studies. Most of them enrolled women over 40 years of age, and exclusion of other confounding factors was also inconsistent. Of 29 studies that assessed aPL positivity rates in infertile women, the majority had small sample sizes, implying a lack of power, and 13 (44.8 %) reported higher frequency of aPL in infertile patients compared to controls, but most of them investigated a panel of non-criteria aPL tests, whose clinical significance is highly controversial. Only 2 studies investigated all 3 criteria tests, and medium-high titer of anticardiolipin cut-off conforming to international guidelines was used in 1 study. Considering IVF outcome, there was also disparity in this definition: few studies assessed the live birth rate, others the implantation rate. Of 14 publications that addressed the relationship between aPL and IVF outcome, only 2 described a detrimental effect of these autoantibodies. The authors concluded that available data do not support an association between aPL and infertility, and aPL positivity does not seem to influence IVF outcome. They stated that well-designed clinical studies recruiting women with a clear diagnosis of infertility and a high-risk aPL profile should be performed to test whether clinically relevant aPL do-or not-exert an effect on human fertility. Furthermore, an UpToDate review on “Evaluation of female infertility” (Kuohung and Hornstein, 2015b) states that “Testing for antibodies -- Routine testing for antiphospholipid, antisperm, antinuclear, and antithyroid antibodies is not supported by existing data. Although an association between antiphospholipid antibodies and recurrent pregnancy loss has been established, the other autoimmune factors remain under investigation as markers of fertility treatment failure”. In a Cochrane review, McDonnell et al (2014) examined the effectiveness and safety of functional ovarian cyst aspiration prior to ovarian stimulation versus a conservative approach in women with an ovarian cyst who were undergoing IVF or ICSI. These investigators searched the Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group (MDSG) Specialised Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, ClinicalTrials.gov, Google Scholar and PubMed. The evidence was current to April 2014 and no language restrictions were applied. These researchers included all RCTs comparing functional ovarian cyst aspiration versus conservative management of ovarian cysts that have been seen on transvaginal ultrasound (TVS) prior to COH for IVF or ICSI. Ovarian cysts were defined as simple, functional ovarian cysts greater than 20 mm in diameter. Oocyte donors and women undergoing donor oocyte cycles were excluded. Study selection, data extraction and risk of bias assessments were conducted independently by 2 review authors. The primary outcome measures were live birth rate and adverse events. The overall quality of the evidence for each comparison was rated using GRADE methods. A total of 3 studies were eligible for inclusion (n = 339), all of which used agonist protocols. Neither live birth rate nor adverse events were reported by any of the included studies. There was no conclusive evidence of a difference between the group who underwent ovarian cyst aspiration and the conservatively managed group in the clinical pregnancy rate (OR 1.40, 95 % CI: 0.67 to 2.94, 3 studies, 339 women, I(2) = 0 %, low-quality evidence). This suggested that if the clinical pregnancy rate in women with conservative management was assumed to be 5 %, the chance following cyst aspiration would be between 4 % and 14 %. There was no evidence of a difference between the groups in the mean number of follicles recruited (0.55 follicles, 95 % CI: -0.48 to 1.59, 2 studies, 159 women, I(2) = 0 %, low-quality evidence) or mean number of oocytes collected (0.41 oocytes, 95 % CI: -0.04 to 0.85, 3 studies, 339 women, I(2) = 0 %, low-quality evidence). Findings for the cancellation rate (2 studies) were inconsistent but neither study reported a benefit for the aspiration group. The main limitations of the evidence were imprecision, inconsistency, questionable applicability, and poor reporting of study methods. The authors concluded that there is insufficient evidence to determine whether drainage of functional ovarian cysts prior to controlled ovarian hyperstimulation influences live birth rate, clinical pregnancy rate, number of follicles recruited, or oocytes collected in women with a functional ovarian cyst. They stated that the findings of this review do not provide supportive evidence for this approach, particularly in view of the requirement for anesthesia, extra cost, psychological stress and risk of surgical complications. Gleicher et al (2014) noted that a few years ago the ASRM, the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and the British Fertility Society declared preimplantation genetic screening (PGS#1) ineffective in improving IVF pregnancy rates and in reducing miscarriage rates. These investigators reviewed a presumably upgraded form of the procedure (PGS#2) that has recently been re-introduced. PGS#2 in comparison to PGS#1 is characterized by: (i) trophectoderm biopsy on day 5/6 embryos in place of day-3 embryo biopsy; and (ii) fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) of limited chromosome numbers is replaced by techniques, allowing aneuploidy assessments of all 24 chromosome pairs. Reviewing the literature, the authors were unable to identify properly conducted prospective clinical trials in which IVF outcomes were assessed based on "intent-to-treat". Whether PGS#2 improves IVF outcomes can, therefore, not be determined. Re-assessments of data, alleged to support the effectiveness of PGS#2, indeed, suggested the opposite. Like with PGS#1, the introduction of PGS#2 into unrestricted IVF practice again appears premature, and threatens to repeat the PGS#1 experience, when thousands of women experienced reductions in IVF pregnancy chances, while expecting improvements. The authors concluded that PGS#2 is an unproven and still experimental procedure, which, until evidence suggests otherwise, should only be offered under study conditions, and with appropriate informed consents. Lee et al (2015) examined if preimplantation genetic diagnosis for aneuploidy (PGD-A) with analysis of all chromosomes during ART is clinically and cost effective? These investigators performed a systematic review of the literature for full text English language articles using MEDLINE, EMBASE, SCOPUS, Cochrane Library databases, NHS Economic Evaluation Database and EconLit. The Downs and Black scoring check-list was used to assess the quality of studies. Clinical effectiveness was measured in terms of pregnancy, live birth and miscarriage rates. A total of 19 articles meeting the inclusion criteria, comprising 3 RCTs in young and good prognosis patients and 16 observation studies were identified; 5 of the observational studies included a control group of patients where embryos were selected based on morphological criteria (matched cohort studies). Of the 5 studies that included a control group and reported implantation rates, 4 studies (including 2 RCTs) demonstrated improved implantation rates in the PGD-A group. Of the 8 studies that included a control group, 6 studies (including 2 RCTs) reported significantly higher pregnancy rates in the PGD-A group, and in the remaining 2 studies, equivalent pregnancies rates were reported despite fewer embryos being transferred in the PGD-A group. The 3 RCTs demonstrated benefit in young and good prognosis patients in terms of clinical pregnancy rates and the use of single embryo transfer. However, studies relating to patients of advanced maternal age, recurrent miscarriage and implantation failure were restricted to matched cohort studies, limiting the ability to draw meaningful conclusions. The authors concluded that given the uncertain role of PGD-A techniques, high-quality experimental studies using intention-to-treat analysis and cumulative live birth rates including the comparative outcomes from remaining cryopreserved embryos are needed to evaluate the overall role of PGD-A in the clinical setting. It is only in this way that the true contribution of PGD-A to ART can be understood. There is some evidence that in women with high T-helper 1/T-helper 2 (Th1/Th2) ratios, there is an increased incidence of pregnancy loss and infertility. Thus, this test has been used by infertility specialists. However, there are no studies demonstrating the clinical utility of these measurements. A review by Ly et al (2010) stated: “Th1 dominance may well be a result of the miscarriage rather than a cause, and much more basic knowledge is needed about the complex cytokine networks in pregnancy and the correlation between cytokine production in peripheral mononuclear cells and decidual lymphocytes before tests measuring cytokines can be introduced in clinical practice”. Ozkan et al (2014) noted that implantation necessitates complex interactions among the developing embryo, decidualizing endometrium, and developing maternal immune tolerance and/or alterations in cellular and humoral immune responses. Over-stimulation of Th1 or Th2 cytokines in systemic and local environments, alterations of the prevalence of interleukin-17 (IL-17) and regulatory T cell (Treg) cytokines have also been suggested to contribute to the pathogenesis of implantation failure. These researchers investigated the plasma levels of IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα), gamma interferon (IFNγ), transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ), IL-17, IL-35, and suppressors of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3) in infertile and fertile women. This case-control study was conducted with 80 women suffering from unexplained infertility and 40 fertile women. Peripheral venous blood samples were drawn on day 21 of the menstrual cycle. The extracted plasma samples were assayed by an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 16.0. The main findings were as follows: despite the significantly high IL-17 and IL-35 plasma levels of infertile women, IL-35/IL-17 ratio was significantly lower in the infertile group compared with that in the fertile group; SOCS3 plasma levels showed an inverse relation with plasma levels of all cytokines except IL-35; increased plasma IL-17 levels (greater than 3.42 pg/ml) have a negative impact on fertility; TNFα/IL-10, IFNγ/IL-10, IFNγ/IL-6, and IFNγ/IL-4 ratios were significantly higher in infertile group compared with those in the fertile group. The authors concluded that it is not possible to show the major immunological factor(s) of unexplained infertility, but these findings pointed out that the decreased suppressor activity of the immune system may play a role in implantation failure. Furthermore, UpToDate reviews on “Overview of infertility” (Kuohung and Hornstein, 2015a) and “Evaluation of female infertility” (Kuohung and Hornstein, 2015b) do not mention the use of Th1/Th2 ratio or intracellular cytokine assay as a management tool. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland and exerts its effects primarily on the ovaries and testes. In females, hCG works with follicleâstimulating hormone to produce mature ovum and progesterone. In males, it stimulates the production of androgen which leads to the development of male secondary sex characteristics. It may also stimulate testicular descent in the absence of anatomical abnormalities. In general, hCG is thought to induce testicular descent in situations when descent would have occurred at puberty. hCG thus may help to predict whether or not orchiopexy will be needed in the future. Although, in some cases, descent following hCG administration is permanent, in most cases the response is temporary. Therapy is usually instituted between the ages of 4 and 9 years. Commercially available hCG products are collected from human pregnancy urine. Human chorionic gonadotropin is indicated for the following: prepubertal cryptorchidism not due to anatomic obstruction; selected cases of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (hypogonadism secondary to a pituitary deficiency) in males; induction of ovulation and pregnancy in the anovulatory, infertile woman in whom the cause of anovulation is secondary and not due to primary ovarian failure, and who has been appropriately pretreated with human menotropins. Human chorionic gonadotropin is available as Novarel, Pregnyl, and as a generic product in vials containing 10,000 units USP. Human chorionic gonadotropin has not been proven effective for: obesity treatment; erectile dysfunction; precocious puberty treatment; and prostatic carcinoma or other androgenâdependent neoplasm treatment.. Human chorionic gonadotropin has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorieârestricted diets. Early Embryo Viability Assessment (Eeva) Test In a prospective, multi-center, cohort study, Conaghan et al (2013) evaluated the first computer-automated platform for time-lapse image analysis and blastocyst prediction and determined how the screening information may assist embryologists in day 3 (D3) embryo selection. A total of 160 women aged 18 years or older undergoing fresh IVF treatment with basal antral follicle count greater than or equal to 8, basal FSH less than 10 IU/ml, and greater than or equal to 8 normally fertilized oocytes were included in this study. A non-invasive test combining time-lapse image analysis with the cell-tracking software, Eeva (Early Embryo Viability Assessment), was used to measure early embryo development and generate usable blastocyst predictions by D3. Main outcome measure was improvement in the ability of experienced embryologists to select which embryos are likely to develop to usable blastocysts using D3 morphology alone, compared with morphology plus Eeva. Experienced embryologists using Eeva in combination with D3 morphology significantly improved their ability to identify embryos that would reach the usable blastocyst stage (specificity for each of 3 embryologists using morphology versus morphology plus Eeva: 59.7 % versus 86.3 %, 41.9 % versus 84.0 %, 79.5 % versus 86.6 %). Adjunctive use of morphology plus Eeva improved embryo selection by enabling embryologists to better discriminate which embryos would be unlikely to develop to blastocyst and was particularly beneficial for improving selection among good-morphology embryos. Adjunctive use of morphology plus Eeva also reduced inter-individual variability in embryo selection. The authors concluded that previous studies have shown improved implantation rates for blastocyst transfer compared with cleavage-stage transfer; addition of Eeva to the current embryo grading process may improve the success rates of cleavage-stage ETs. VerMilyea et al (2014) noted that computer-automated time-lapse analysis has been shown to improve embryo selection by providing quantitative and objective information to supplement traditional morphology. In a blinded, multi-center study, these researchers examined relationship between such computer-derived outputs (High, Medium, Low scores), embryo implantation and clinical pregnancy. Data were collected from 6 clinics, including 205 patients whose embryos were imaged by the Eeva(TM) System. The Eeva scores were blinded and not considered during embryo selection. Embryos with high and medium scores had significantly higher implantation rates than those with low scores (37 % and 35 % versus 15 %; p < 0.0001; p = 0.0004). Similar trends in implantation rates were observed in different IVF centers each using their own protocols. Further analysis revealed that patients with at least 1 high embryo transferred had significantly higher clinical pregnancy rates than those with only low embryos transferred (51 % versus 34 %; p = 0.02), although patients' clinical characteristics across groups were comparable. The authors concluded that these data, together with previous research and clinical studies, confirmed that computer-automated Eeva scores provided valuable information, which may improve the clinical outcome of IVF procedures and ultimately facilitate the trend of single embryo selection. In summary, there is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of the EEVA test for improving embryo selection. CAG-Repeat Polymorphisms in the Polymerase γ Gene (POLG) and Male Infertility Zhang et al (2015) stated that CAG-repeat in the polymerase γ (POLG) gene encoding polymerase γ for mitochondria is important to spermatogenesis. Compared with a few researchers who raised alteration of CAG-repeat-affected male reproductive ability, others did not find the association between CAG-repeat polymorphisms and male infertility. These researchers performed a comprehensive meta-analysis to determine the association; 13 case-control studies were screened out using keywords search. From these studies, characteristics were extracted for conducting meta-analysis. Odds ratio (OR) and 95 % CI were used to describe the results; the results indicated that CAG-repeat allele was not a risk factor to male infertility (pooled OR = 1.03, 95 % CI: 0.79 to 1.34, p = 0.828). Four different genetic comparisons also demonstrated a negative result: heterozygote comparison (not 10/10 versus 10/10; pooled OR = 0.99, 95 % CI: 0.77 to 1.27, p = 0.948), homozygote comparison (not 10/not 10 versus 10/10; pooled OR = 1.08, 95 % CI: 0.56 to 2.06, p = 0.816), the recessive genetic comparison (not 10/not 10 versus not 10/10 + 10/10; pooled OR = 1.07, 95 % CI: 0.58 to 1.95, p = 0.829) and the dominant genetic comparison (not 10/not 10 + not 10/10 versus 10/10; pooled OR = 0.97, 95 % CI: 0.72 to 1.29, p = 0.804). The authors concluded that based on current researches, this meta-analysis demonstrated no apparent association between POLG-CAG-repeat and male infertility. Similarly, CAG-repeat was not a sensitive site to male infertility. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Metelev et al (2015) examined the potential of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) for reduction of sperm DNA fragmentation level and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in semen. The study included 90 men with idiopathic infertility. Patients of the treatment group (n = 60) underwent HBO before IVF. In the control group (n = 30) IVF was carried out without prior course of HBO. Sperm DNA fragmentation analysis was carried out using the TUNEL assay, the level of ROS in the ejaculate was measured by chemiluminescence. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy resulted in a significant decrease in the mean level of sperm DNA fragmentation from 33.2 ± 7.5 to 11.9 ± 5.9 %, and the median ROS in sperm from 0.89 to 0.39 mV/s (p < 0.05). In the control group these changes were not statistically significant. Pregnancy after IVF occurred in 63.3 % (38/60) of sexual partners of the treatment group men and in 36.7 % (11/30) of the control group (p < 0.05). The authors concluded that the high efficiency of HBO in overcoming the adverse effects of oxidative stress on sperm parameters suggested that it is a promising method for the treatment of men with idiopathic infertility. Genetic Testing of CFTR Mutations for a Man with Congenital Absence of the Vas Deferens Yu and associates (2012) stated that numerous studies have reported cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) mutations in congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD) patients, but their results are not completely consistent. These investigators performed a systemic review and meta-analysis with emphasis on clarifying further the genetic association of CFTR mutations with CBAVD. They searched the Medline database until March, 2011 for eligible articles reporting CFTR mutations in CBAVD. Relevant data from each included study were abstracted by 2 independent reviewers. The overall frequency of CFTR mutations in CBAVD and OR for common specific alleles were pooled under random-effect or fixed-effect model as appropriate. Subgroup analysis was performed by ethnicity, and potential heterogeneity and bias were both assessed. Among CBAVD patients, 78 % had at least 1 CFTR mutation, 46 % having 2 and 28 % only 1. Moreover, the common heterozygous F508del/5T and F508del/R117H were observed in 17 % and 4 % of CBAVD cases, respectively, and the allele frequency in CBAVD was 17 % for F508del, 25 % for 5T and 3 % for R117H. Subgroup analysis indicated an increased frequency of cases with 2 mutations in Caucasian patients than in non-Caucasian (68 % versus 50 %, p = 0.012), but no differences for cases with at least 1 mutation (88 % versus 77 %, p = 0.163) or with only 1 mutation (17 % versus 25 %, p = 0.115). Caucasian patients had higher F508del frequency, but lower 5T frequency, than non-Caucasian (22 % versus 8 %, p = 0.001; 20 % versus 31 %, p = 0.009). Summary OR was 9.25 for 5T [95 % CI: 7.07 to 12.11, p = 0.000], with moderate heterogeneity (I(2)= 49.20 %, p= 0.019) and evident bias (Egger's test, p = 0.005), and it was 19.43 for 5T/(TG)12_13 (95 % CI: 10.48 to 30.03, p = 0.000) without any evidence of heterogeneity (I(2)= 0.1 %, p = 0.391) and bias (Egger's test, p = 0.160). The OR for 5T/(TG)12_13 was significantly higher than that for 5T allele (p = 0.000). The authors concluded that these findings demonstrated a high frequency of CFTR mutations in CBAVD patients, and these exhibited evident ethnic differences. In addition, 5T allele and 5T/(TG)12_13 may contribute to the increased risk for CBAVD, with the 5T penetrance probably being modulated by adjacent (TG)12_13. The European Association of Urology’s guidelines on “Male infertility” (Jungwirth et al, 2012) stated that “Men with congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens [CBAVD] often have mild clinical stigmata of cystic fibrosis (CF) (e.g., history of chest infections). Children born after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where the father has CBAVD and is either heterozygous or homozygous, must be followed-up. When a man has CBAVD, it is important to test him and his partner for CF mutations. If the female partner is found to be a carrier of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), the couple must consider very carefully whether to proceed with ICSI using the husband's sperm, as the risk of having a baby with CF will be 25 % if the man is heterozygous and 50 % if the man is homozygous. If the female partner is negative for known mutations, the risk of being a carrier of unknown mutations is about 0.4 %”. Sharma and co-workers (2014) noted that CF is usually considered a rare disease in the Indian population; 2 studies have reported on the frequency of CFTR gene mutations in Indian males with CAVD. However, data on the spectrum of CFTR gene mutations are still lacking. These researchers identified the spectrum of CFTR gene mutations and investigated an association of CF genetic modifiers in the penetrance of CAVD in infertile Indian men. A total of 60 consecutive infertile males with a diagnosis of CAVD were subjected to CFTR gene analysis that revealed 13 different CFTR gene mutations and 1 intronic variant that led to aberrant splicing. p.Phe508del (n = 16) and p.Arg117His (n = 4) were among the most common severe forms of CFTR mutations identified. The IVS8-T5 allele, which is considered as a mild form of CFTR mutation, was found with an allelic frequency of 28.3 %; 8 novel mutations were also identified in the CFTR gene from this patient cohort. It was noteworthy that the spectrum of CFTR gene mutation was heterogeneous, with exon 4 and exon 11 as hot spot regions. Moreover, these investigators also found an association of the CF genetic modifiers, viz., transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and endothelial receptor type-A (EDNRA) genes with the CAVD phenotype. The findings were of considerable clinical significance because men suffering from infertility due to CAVD can decide to use artificial reproduction technology. The children of men with CAVD are at risk of carrying CFTR mutations; therefore, genetic counseling is a crucial step for such patients. With special reference to developing countries, such as India, where whole gene sequencing is not feasible, the outcome of this study will make the screening procedure for CFTR gene simpler and more cost-effective as these researchers have identified hot spot regions of the CFTR gene that are more prone to mutation in Indian males with CAVD. Moreover, this was the first study from the Indian population to investigate the association of CF genetic modifiers with penetrance of the CAVD phenotype. They stated that the observed association of the genetic modifiers TGF-β1 and EDNRA in the penetrance of CAVD further supports their involvement in genesis of the vas deferens. Yang and colleagues (2015) discussed the findings and significance of the detection of the CFTR gene mutation in azoospermia patients with congenital unilateral absence of the vas deferens (CUAVD). These researchers collected peripheral blood samples from 6 azoospermia patients with CUAVD for detection of the CFTR gene mutations and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). They analyzed the genome sequences of the CFTR gene in comparison with the website of the UCSC Genome Browser on Human December 2013 Assembly. Missense mutation of c. 592G > C in exon 6 was found in 1 of the 6 azoospermia patients with CUAVD and splicing mutation of c. 1210-12T was observed in the non-coding region before exon 10 in 2 of the patients, both with the V470 haplotype in exon 11. The authors concluded that mutations of the CFTR gene can be detected in azoospermia patients with CUAVD and the detection of the CFTR gene mutation is necessary for these patients.
Furthermore, an UpToDate review on “Evaluation of male infertility” (Swerdloff and Wang, 2017) states that “Absence of the vas deferens on physical examination, together with low seminal fluid volume and acidic pH, suggest congenital absence of vas deferens. Low or absent semen fructose will help to confirm the diagnosis of this condition, because the seminal vesicles are usually also absent. These patients should be tested for the CFTR gene mutations and, if positive in either the man or the female partner, genetic counseling is necessary before IVF and ICSI”.
Vaginal Sildenafil for the Treatment of Female Infertility
Check et al (2004) examined if sildenafil improves endometrial thickness better than vaginal estradiol (E2) in women with a history of thin endometria. Women failing to attain an 8 mm endometrial thickness on either the oocyte retrieval cycle or their 1st frozen embryo transfer (ET) despite an oral graduated E2 regimen were treated again with graduated oral E2 and were also randomly assigned to vaginal sildenafil or vaginal E2 therapy. Endometrial thickness was compared between the groups. Neither vaginal E2 nor sildenafil significantly improved endometrial thickness or blood flow in the subsequent frozen ET-cycle. The authors concluded that these data failed to corroborate previous claims that 25-mg sildenafil 4 times daily intra-vaginally can improve endometrial thickness.
Zinger et al (2006) stated that vaginal sildenafil citrate has been shown to be useful in increasing endometrial thickness and achieving pregnancy in women with varied uterine disorders. However, it failed to demonstrate favorable results in the setting of Asherman’s syndrome, a condition characterized by the presence of uterine synechiae. These investigators have successfully applied this treatment in 2 women noted to have inadequate endometrium after surgical resection of uterine synechiae. Both patients had a history of a post-partum uterine curettage with subsequent secondary infertility. Asherman’s syndrome was surgically demonstrated and treated in both patients. Post-operatively, both patients were noted to have a thin endometrium and failed to conceive despite fertility treatment. Subsequently, these women achieved pregnancy in the 1st treatment cycle with vaginal sildenafil citrate. Using trans-vaginal ultrasound, endometrial thickness was noted to improve when sildenafil citrate was administered. It is suspected that this medication causes selective vasodilatation, resulting in improved endometrial development.
Malinova et al (2013) noted that evaluation of endometrial receptivity remains a challenge in clinical practice. Ultrasound evaluation of endometrial thickness and texture and measurement of uterine artery blood flow has been used for endometrial assessment. These researchers investigated the role of combination of sildenafil citrate and serophene on endometrial thickness, endometrial volume, endometrial FI and VFI on angiohistogram, RI and PI to a. uterine on the day of hCG, in prediction of IUI outcome in infertile women. A total of 42 patients were selected randomly who had anovulatory infertility. In the sildenafil citrate plus serophene group (Group I), patients got 25 mg sildenafil citrate (Silden) vaginally and serophene 100 to 150 mg orally, and in serophene group (Group II), 100 to 150 mg of serophene was given orally. Mean endometrial thickness and endometrial volume was 11.8 +/- 2.6 v/s 10.2 +/- 2.8 and 5.2 +/- 1.4 v/s 3.6 +/- 1.8, respectively in group I and in group II (p < 0.05). There was significant decrease in PI and RI to a. uterina in group I. The authors concluded that combination of sildenafil citrate and serophene is an effective agent as a first-line of treatment for ovulation induction. This was a relatively small study, and its findings were confounded by the combined use of sildenafil and serophene. Gutarra-Vilchez et al (2014) noted that since 1978, when Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards achieved the birth of the first test tube baby, ARTs have been refined and improved. However, the rate of successful pregnancies brought to term has barely increased. Thus, closer evaluation of the interventions is needed along with working towards improving uterus receptivity. Vasodilators have been proposed to increase endometrial receptivity, thicken the endometrium and favor uterine relaxation, all of which could improve uterine receptivity and enhance the chances for successful assisted pregnancies. In a Cochrane review, these investigators evaluated the safety and effectiveness of vasodilators in women undergoing fertility treatment. The authors concluded that (i) evidence was insufficient to show that vasodilators increased the live-birth rate in women undergoing fertility treatment; (ii) low-quality evidence suggested that vasodilators may increase clinical pregnancy rates in comparison with placebo or no treatment, and (iii) evidence was insufficient to show whether any particular vasodilator, administered alone or in combination with other active medications, was superior, and evidence was insufficient to allow the review authors to reach any conclusions regarding adverse effects. They stated that adequately powered studies are needed so that each treatment can be evaluated more accurately. Soliman and colleagues (2017) developed and characterized in-situ thermos-sensitive gels for the vaginal administration of sildenafil as a potential treatment of endometrial thinning occurring as a result of using clomiphene citrate for ovulation induction in women with type II eugonadotrophic anovulation. While sildenafil has shown promising results in the treatment of infertility in women, the lack of vaginal pharmaceutical preparation and the side effects associated with oral sildenafil limit its clinical effectiveness. Sildenafil citrate in-situ forming gels were prepared using different grades of Pluronic (PF-68 and PF-127). Muco-adhesive polymers as sodium alginate and hydroxyethyl cellulose were added to the gels in different concentrations and the effect on gel properties was studied. The formulations were evaluated in terms of viscosity, gelation temperature (Tsol-gel), muco-adhesion properties, and in-vitro drug release characteristics. Selected formulations were evaluated in women with clomiphene citrate failure due to thin endometrium (Clinicaltrial.gov identifier NCT02766725). The Tsol-gel decreased with increasing PF-127 concentration and it was modulated by addition of PF-68 to be within the acceptable range of 28 to 37 °C. Increasing Pluronic concentration increased gel viscosity and muco-adhesive force but decreased drug release rate. Clinical results showed that the in-situ sildenafil vaginal gel significantly increased endometrial thickness and uterine blood flow with no reported side effects. Further, these results were achieved at lower frequency and duration of drug administration. The authors concluded that sildenafil thermos-sensitive vaginal gels might result in improved potential of pregnancy in anovulatory patients with clomiphene citrate failure due to thin endometrium. These preliminary findings need to be validated by well-designed studies. Furthermore, an UpToDate review on “Overview of treatment of female infertility” (Kuohung and Hornstein, 2017) does not mention sildenafil as a management tool. Germ Cell Transplantation or Cultured Testicular Stem Cells for the Treatment of Male Infertility An UpToDate review on “Treatment of male infertility” (Wang and Swerdloff, 2017) states that “Mammalian (mouse) germ cells undergo self-renewal, can be maintained in vitro for several hours, can initiate organized, normal spermatogenesis when transplanted to mice depleted of germ cells due to genetic mutation or after chemotherapy, and can result in normal progeny after successful mating with females. Successful germ cell transplants can be achieved from mouse to mouse, rat to rat, and rat to immune-compromised mouse. Recently, successful ectopic xenografts of testis from a number of species including primates into mice have allowed studies of drugs and toxicants on spermatogenesis without having to administer the agent to the species. These observations suggest that germ cell transplantation or cultured testicular stem cells may become a treatment for male infertility and for genetic diseases in men that can be corrected and eradicated in germ cell lines. This possibility raises serious ethical, social, and moral issues” Population Reference No. 1 Population Reference No. 1 Policy Statement [ X] MedicallyNecessary [ ] Investigational [ ] Not Medically Necessary Supplemental Information See Rationale section. Practice Guidelines and Position Statements See Background section Medicare National Coverage There is no national coverage determination. References 1. Hanson MA, Dumesic DA. 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Codes Codes Number Description CPT 54900 Epididymovasostomy, anastomosis of epididymis to vas deferens; unilateral (reversal of sterilization) 54901 Epididymovasostomy, anastomosis of epididymis to vas deferens; bilateral 55530 Excision of varicocele or ligation of spermatic veins for varicocele; (separate procedure) 58100 Endometrial sampling (biopsy) with or without endocervical sampling (biopsy), without cervical dilation, any method (separate procedure) 58120 Dilation and curettage, diagnostic and/or therapeutic (nonobstetrical) 58140 Myomectomy, excision of fibroid tumor(s) of uterus, 1 to 4 intramural myoma(s) with total weight of 250 g or less and/or removal of surface myomas; abdominal approach 58145 Myomectomy, excision of fibroid tumor(s) of uterus, 1 to 4 intramural myoma(s) with total weight of 250 g or less and/or removal of surface myomas; vaginal approach 58146 Myomectomy, excision of fibroid tumor(s) of uterus, 5 or more intramural myomas and/or intramural myomas with total weight greater than 250 g, abdominal approach 58321 Artificial insemination; intra-cervical 58322 Artificial insemination; intra-uterine 58323 Sperm washing for artificial insemination 58340 Catheterization and introduction of saline or contrast material for saline infusion sonohysterography (SIS) or hysterosalpingography 58350 Chromotubation of oviduct, including materials 58545 Laparoscopy, surgical, myomectomy, excision; 1 to 4 intramural myomas with total weight of 250 g or less and/or removal of surface myomas 58546 Laparoscopy, surgical, myomectomy, excision; 5 or more intramural myomas and/or intramural myomas with total weight greater than 250 g 58558 Hysteroscopy, surgical; with sampling (biopsy) of endometrium and/or polypectomy, with or without D & C 58559 Hysteroscopy, surgical; with lysis of intrauterine adhesions (any method) 58560 Hysteroscopy, surgical; with division or resection of intrauterine septum (any method) 58561 Hysteroscopy, surgical; with removal of leiomyomata 58562 Hysteroscopy, surgical; with removal of impacted foreign body 58660 Laparoscopy, surgical; with lysis of adhesions (salpingolysis, ovariolysis) (separate procedure) 58661 Laparoscopy, surgical; with removal of adnexal structures (partial or total oophorectomy and/or salpingectomy) 58662 Laparoscopy, surgical; with fulguration or excision of lesions of the ovary, pelvic viscera, or peritoneal surface by any method 58672 Laparoscopy, surgical; with fimbrioplasty 58673 Laparoscopy, surgical; with salpingostomy (salpingoneostomy) 58750 Tubotubal anastomosis 58752 Tubouterine implantation 58760 Fimbrioplasty 58770 Salpingostomy (salpingoneostomy) 58970 Follicle puncture for oocyte retrieval, any method 58974 Embryo transfer, intrauterine 58976 Gamete, zygote, or embryo intrafallopian transfer, any method 58999 Unlisted procedure, femele genital system 74740 Hysterosalpingography, radiological supervision and interpretation 76830 Ultrasound, transvaginal 76856 Ultrasound, pelvic (nonobstetric), real time with image documentation; complete 76857 Ultrasound, pelvic (nonobstetric), real time with image documentation; limited or follow-up (eg, for follicles) 76870 Ultrasound, scrotum and contents 76872 Ultrasound, transrectal; 82627 Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S) 82670 Estradiol 82671 Estrogens; fractionated 82672 Estrogens; total 82757 Fructose, semen 83001 Gonadotropin; follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) 83002 Gonadotropin; luteinizing hormone (LH) 83498 Hydroxyprogesterone, 17-d 83520 Immunoassay for analyte other than infectious agent antibody or infectious agent antigen; quantitative, not otherwise specified 84144 Progesterone 84146 Prolactin 84270 Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) 84402 Testosterone; free 84403 Testosterone; total 84443 Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) 84702 Gonadotropin, chorionic (hCG); quantitative 84703 Gonadotropin, chorionic (hCG); qualitative 87490 Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); Chlamydia trachomatis, direct probe technique 87491 Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); Chlamydia trachomatis, amplified probe technique 87590 Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); Neisseria gonorrhoeae, direct probe technique 87591 Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); Neisseria gonorrhoeae, amplified probe technique 89250 Culture of oocyte(s)/embryo(s), less than 4 days; 89258 Cryopreservation; embryo(s) 89259 Cryopreservation; sperm 89300 Semen analysis; presence and/or motility of sperm including Huhner test (post coital) 89331 Sperm evaluation, for retrograde ejaculation, urine (sperm concentration, motility, and morphology, as indicated) HCPCS S4011 In vitro fertilization; including but not limited to identification and incubation of mature oocytes, fertilization with sperm, incubation of embryo(s), and subsequent visualization for determination of development J0725 Injection, chorionic gonadotropin, per 1,000 USP units J1380 Injection, estradiol valerate, up to 10 mg J1950 Injection, leuprolide acetate (for depot suspension), per 3.75 mg J2675 Injection, progesterone, per 50 mg J3490 Unclassified drugs J0725 Injection, chorionic gonadotropin, per 1,000 USP units J9218 Leuprolide acetate, per 1 mg S0122 Injection, menotropins, 75 IU S0128 Injection, follitropin beta, 75 IU S0132 Injection, ganirelix acetate, 250 mcg S4015 Complete in vitro fertilization cycle, not otherwise specified, case rate S4035 Stimulated intrauterine insemination (IUI), case rate S4037 Cryopreserved embryo transfer, case rate ICD-10 I86.1 Scrotal varices N46.01 - N46.9 Male Infertility Code Range N97.0 - N97.9 Famale Infertility Code Range Applicable Modifiers N/A Policy History Date Action Description 11/10/2021 Annual Review Policy revieweed by the Providers Advisory Committee. No changes 9/13/2021 Policy Review Added HCPCS code effective 8/01/2021 J0725, J9218, S0122, S0128, S0132, S4015, S4035, S4037 11/11/2020 Policy Review Policy revieweed by the Providers Advisory Committee. No changes. 11/14/2019 Annual review and approval Approval Provider comitte. No changes. 7/24/2019 New Policy Configure CPTs to PAY