Immediate versus delayed frozen embryo transfer in women following a failed IVF-ET attempt: a multicenter randomized controlled trial
Jing-Yan Song, Feng-Yi Dong, Li Li, Xing-Xing Zhang, Ai-Juan Wang, Yi Zhang, Dan-Dan Gao, Ji-Mei Xiao, Zhen-Gao Sun
Background The optimal time at which to perform a frozen-thawed embryo transfer (FET) following a failed in-vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF-ET) attempt remains elusive to most reproductive experts. Physicians often delay the introduction of FET due to concerns related to potential residual effects of ovarian hyperstimulation which may interfere with the regular menstrual cycle. Moreover, given that most of the published studies on the topic are retrospective and have inconsistent
... gs, it is crucial to develop evidence-based randomized control guides for clinical practice. Therefore, this well-designed randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted to determine whether it is necessary to delay FET for at least one menstrual cycle after the failure of fresh embryo transfer. Methods Infertile women eligible for IVF-ET were invited to participate in this multicenter, randomized, non-inferiority, parallel-group, unblinded, controlled trial at the academic fertility centers of four public hospitals in Chinese Mainland. Infertile women scheduled to receive their first FET cycle after a failed IVF-ET attempt were randomly assigned to either (a) the immediate FET group in which FET was performed in the first menstrual cycle following the failed IVF-ET cycle (n = 366) or (b) the delayed FET group in which FET was performed in the second or subsequent menstrual cycle following the failed IVF-ET cycle (n = 366). All FET cycles were performed during hormone replacement cycles for endometrial preparation. The primary outcome was the ongoing pregnancy, defined as a detectable fetal heart beat beyond twelve weeks of gestation. Secondary outcomes were other pregnancy-related outcomes, maternal and neonatal complications. Analysis was performed by both intention-to-treat and per-protocol principles. Results A total of 646 FETs were completed. The frequency of moderate to severe depression and high stress level prior to FET in delayed FET group were significantly higher than that in immediate FET group (10.6% vs 6.1%, p = 0.039; 30.3% vs 22.4%, p = 0.022, respectively). Immediate FET resulted in a higher frequency of clinical pregnancy than did delayed FET (41.7% vs 34.1%), for a relative risk (RR) of 1.23 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00-1.50; p = 0.045). Women who underwent immediate FET also had a lower frequency of biochemical pregnancy loss (11.7% vs. 30.6%), with a RR of 0.28 (95% CI 0.23–0.63, p < 0.001), and a higher frequency of embryo implantation (25.2% vs. 20.2%), with a RR of 1.25 (95% CI 1.01–1.53; p = 0.038). Although the ongoing pregnancy and live birth rates did not differ significantly between the immediate FET and delayed FET groups (37.1% vs 30.3%, RR 1.22, 95% CI 0.99–1.52, p = 0.067; 36.5% vs 30.0%, RR 1.22, 95% CI 0.98–1.52, p = 0.079, respectively), a multivariate logistic regression analysis adjusted for potential confounders such as depression and stress levels revealed that the immediate FET group had a significantly higher ongoing pregnancy and live birth rates than the delayed FET group (odds ratio 0.68, 95% CI 0.47–0.99, p = 0.041; odds ratio 0.67, 95% CI 0.46–0.96, p = 0.031). The risks of maternal and neonatal complications were comparable between the two groups. Conclusions In women with a previous failed IVF-ET attempt, immediate FET resulted in higher ongoing pregnancy and live birth rates than delayed FET. These findings warrant caution in the indiscriminate application of a delayed FET strategy when apparent risk of high stress level is perceived.