Home > For Consumers > Replacing FSH by hCG to complete...

PubMed Health. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet]. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2003-. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010042.pub2

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet].

Replacing FSH by hCG to complete follicular growth in women undergoing assisted reproduction

This version published: 2013; Review content assessed as up-to-date: February 05, 2013.

Link to full article: [Cochrane Library]

Plain language summary

Follicle‐stimulating hormone (FSH) ‐ a relatively expensive drug ‐ is commonly used for several days to stimulate the ovaries of women undergoing assisted reproduction. Initial studies have shown that after a few days of using FSH to stimulate the ovaries, it can be replaced by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is less expensive. In addition to cost reduction, this intervention has a theoretical potential to reduce the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS); though the underlying risk is already very low for most women. We searched the medical literature on in February 2013 for studies that evaluated the effectiveness and safety of using low‐dose hCG to replace FSH during the late follicular phase in women undergoing controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) for assisted reproduction, compared to the use of a conventional COH protocol. Five studies evaluating 351 women were included in this review. These studies were funded by fertility centres, universities, or both. We are very uncertain of the effect of this intervention on live birth, OHSS and miscarriage

When use of low‐dose hCG to replace FSH was compared with conventional COH, there was very low quality evidence compatible with appreciable benefit, no effect or appreciable harm for the intervention, suggesting that for women with a 14% chance of achieving live birth using a conventional COH, the chance of achieving live birth using low‐dose hCG would be between 10% and 45%. Similarly, there was very low quality evidence suggesting that for women with a 3% risk of OHSS using a conventional COH, the risk using low‐dose hCG was also compatible with either benefit or harm, and would be between 0% and 4%.

Additionally we observed that there was low quality evidence suggesting that for women with a 32% chance of achieving ongoing pregnancy using a conventional COH, the chance using low‐dose hCG was compatible with either benefit or no effect, and would be between 27% and 53%. There was low quality evidence suggesting that for women with a 35% chance of achieving clinical pregnancy using a conventional COH, the chance using low‐dose hCG was compatible with either benefit or no effect, and would be between 32% and 54%. There was very low quality evidence suggesting that for pregnant women with a 16% risk of miscarriage using a conventional COH, the risk using low‐dose hCG was compatible with either benefit or harm, and would be between 8% and 36%. We also observed that there is moderate‐quality evidence that this intervention reduces the total FSH consumption and is unlikely to materially affect the number of oocytes retrieved

Our conclusions are that we are very uncertain of the effect on live birth, OHSS and miscarriage of using low‐dose hCG to replace FSH during the late follicular phase of COH in women undergoing ART, compared to the use of conventional COH. The current evidence suggests that this intervention does not reduce the chance of ongoing and clinical pregnancy; and that it is likely to result in an equivalent number of oocytes retrieved expending less FSH. More studies are needed to strengthen the evidence regarding the effect of this intervention on important reproductive outcomes.

Abstract

Background: During controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) follicle‐stimulating hormone (FSH) is frequently used for several days to achieve follicular development. FSH is a relatively expensive drug, substantially contributing to the total expenses of assisted reproductive techniques (ART). When follicles achieve a diameter greater than 10 mm they start expressing luteinising hormone (LH) receptors. At this point, FSH might be replaced by low‐dose human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is less expensive. In addition to cost reduction, replacing FSH by low‐dose hCG has a theoretical potential to reduce the incidence of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of using low‐dose hCG to replace FSH during the late follicular phase in women undergoing COH for assisted reproduction, compared to the use of a conventional COH protocol.

Search methods: We searched for randomised controlled trials (RCT) in electronic databases (Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group Specialized Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, LILACS), trials registers (ClinicalTrials.gov, Current Controlled Trials, World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform), conference abstracts (ISI Web of knowledge), and grey literature (OpenGrey); additionally we handsearched the reference list of included studies and similar reviews. The last electronic search was performed in February 2013..

Selection criteria: Only true RCTs comparing the replacement of FSH by low‐dose hCG during late follicular phase of COH were considered eligible; quasi or pseudo‐randomised trials were not included. Cross‐over trials would be included only if data regarding the first treatment of each participant were available; trials that included the same participant more than once would be included only if each participant was always allocated to the same intervention and follow‐up periods were the same in both/all arms, or if data regarding the first treatment of each participant were available. We excluded trials that sustained FSH after starting low‐dose hCG and those that started FSH and low‐dose hCG at the same time.

Data collection and analysis: Study eligibility, data extraction, and assessment of the risk of bias were performed independently by two review authors, and disagreements were solved by consulting a third review author. We corresponded with study investigators in order to solve any query, as required. The overall quality of the evidence was assessed in a GRADE summary of findings table.

Main results: The search retrieved 1585 records; from those five studies were eligible, including 351 women (intervention = 166; control = 185). All studies were judged to be at high risk of bias. All reported per‐woman rather than per‐cycle data.

When use of low‐dose hCG to replace FSH was compared with conventional COH for the outcome of live birth, confidence intervals were very wide and findings were compatible with appreciable benefit, no effect or appreciable harm for the intervention (RR 1.56, 95% CI 0.75 to 3.25, 2 studies, 130 women, I² = 0%, very‐low‐quality evidence). This suggests that for women with a 14% chance of achieving live birth using conventional COH, the chance of achieving live birth using low‐dose hCG would be between 10% and 45%.

Similarly confidence intervals were very wide for the outcome of OHSS and findings were compatible with benefit, no effect or harm for the intervention (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.06 to 1.59, 5 studies, 351 women, I² = 59%, very‐low‐quality evidence). This suggests that for women with a 3% risk of OHSS using conventional COH, the risk using low‐dose hCG would be between 0% and 4%.

The confidence intervals were wide for the outcome of ongoing pregnancy and findings were compatible with benefit or no effect for the intervention (RR 1.14, 95% CI 0.81 to 1.60, 3 studies, 252 women, I² = 0%, low‐quality evidence). This suggests that for women with a 32% chance of achieving ongoing pregnancy using conventional COH, the chance using low‐dose hCG would be between 27% and 53%.

The confidence intervals were wide for the outcome of clinical pregnancy and findings were compatible with benefit or no effect for the intervention (RR 1.19, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.55, 5 studies, 351 women, I² = 0%, low‐quality evidence). This suggests that for women with a 35% chance of achieving clinical pregnancy using conventional COH, the chance using low‐dose hCG would be between 32% and 54%.

The confidence intervals were very wide for the outcome of miscarriage and findings were compatible with benefit, no effect or harm for the intervention (RR 1.08, 95% CI 0.50 to 2.31, 3 studies, 127 pregnant women, I² = 0%, very‐low‐quality evidence). This suggests that for pregnant women with a 16% risk of miscarriage using conventional COH, the risk using low‐dose hCG would be between 8% and 36%.

The findings for the outcome of FSH consumption were compatible with benefit for the intervention (MD ‐639 IU, 95% CI ‐893 to ‐385, 5 studies, 333 women, I² = 88%, moderate‐quality evidence).

The findings for the outcome of number of oocytes retrieved were compatible with no effect for the intervention (MD ‐0.12 oocytes, 95% CI ‐1.0 to 0.8 oocytes, 5 studies, 351 women, I² = 0%, moderate‐quality evidence).

Authors' conclusions: We are very uncertain of the effect on live birth, OHSS and miscarriage of using low‐dose hCG to replace FSH during the late follicular phase of COH in women undergoing ART, compared to the use of conventional COH. The current evidence suggests that this intervention does not reduce the chance of ongoing and clinical pregnancy; and that it is likely to result in an equivalent number of oocytes retrieved expending less FSH. More studies are needed to strengthen the evidence regarding the effect of this intervention on important reproductive outcomes.

Editorial Group: Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group.

Publication status: New.

Citation: Martins WP, Vieira ADD, Figueiredo JBP, Nastri CO. FSH replaced by low‐dose hCG in the late follicular phase versus continued FSH for assisted reproductive techniques. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD010042. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010042.pub2. Link to Cochrane Library. [PubMed: 23543584]

Copyright © 2013 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID: 23543584

Download

PubMed Health Blog...

read all...

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...