1. Center for Reproductive Medicine, Shandong Provincial Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University, National Research Center for Assisted Reproductive Technology and Reproductive Genetics; The Key Laboratory for Reproductive Endocrinology of Ministry of Education, Jinan, Shandong 250021, P.R. China.
2. The Medical Scientific Research Center of Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, 530000, P.R. China.
*These authors contributed equally to this study.
Objectives: To investigate the differences in clinical pregnancy, miscarriage, and live birth rates when male partners were diagnosed with a varicocele and to compare these outcomes to those without and study the outcomes based on the grade of varicocele.
Methods: The retrospective study was based on a cohort of consecutive infertile couples undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) at the Reproductive Center of Shandong Provincial Hospital affiliated to the Shandong University during the period between January 2017 and December 2018. A total of 4203 couples comprised of men with and without varicocele undergoing the first ART cycle (1501 intrauterine inseminations (IUI), 1623 in vitro fertilisations (IVF) and 1079 intracytoplasmic sperm injections (ICSI)) were included. Semen parameters and ART outcomes were determined.
Results: ICSI (26.5%) originated from men with a significant lower level in sperm concentration and motility but with a strict normal morphology had a higher prevalence of varicocele than men undergoing IUI (20.7%) and IVF (18.1%). In IUI, the odds ratios (ORs) for pregnancy and live birth were significantly lower for couples in men diagnosed with grades 1 or 2 varicocele as compared to those for men with grade 3 varicocele. In IVF, ORs for live birth where men were diagnosed with grades 1 or 2 varicocele were also lower than those for men with grade 3,whereas a higher miscarriage rate was found when men had grades 1 or 2 varicocele than when men had grade 3. However, for ICSI, no significant outcomes were found in grades 1, 2 or 3 varicocele versus the no varicocele group.
Conclusions: The increasing grade of varicocele was negatively associated with sperm parameters and can alter the outcome of further IUI/IVF.
Keywords: varicocele, IUI, IVF, ICSI