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Hum Reprod. 2002 Dec;17(12):3090-109.

Economic implications of assisted reproductive techniques: a systematic review.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.



Approximately one in six couples experiences problems with their fertility at some point in their reproductive lives. The economic implications of the use of assisted reproductive techniques require consideration. Herein, the health economics research in this area are critically appraised.


Multiple strategies were used to identify relevant studies. Each title and abstract was independently reviewed by two members of the study team and categorized according to perceived relevance. The selected papers were then assessed for quality and data were extracted, converted to UK pounds sterling at 1999/2000 prices, tabulated and critically appraised.


A total of 2547 papers was identified through the searches; this resulted in 30 economic evaluations, 22 cost studies and five economic benefit studies that met the selection criteria. The quality of these studies was mixed; many failed to disaggregate costs, discount future costs or conduct sensitivity analyses. Consistent findings included the following: initiating treatment with intrauterine insemination appeared to be more cost-effective than IVF; vasectomy reversal appeared to be more cost-effective than ICSI; factors associated with poor prognosis decreased the cost-effectiveness of interventions.


The cost-effectiveness of different interventions should be considered when making decisions about treatment. Future economic appraisals of assisted reproductive techniques would benefit from more robust methodology than is evident in much of the published literature to date.

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