Is IVF-served two different ways-more cost-effective than IUI with controlled ovarian hyperstimulation?

R. I. Tjon-Kon-Fat, A. J. Bensdorp, P. M. M. Bossuyt, C. Koks, G. J. E. Oosterhuis, A. Hoek - ten Cate, P. Hompes, F. J. Broekmans, H. R. Verhoeve, J. P. de Bruin, R. van Golde, S. Repping, B. J. Cohlen, M. D. A. Lambers, P. F. van Bommel, E. Slappendel, D. Perquin, J. Smeenk, M. J. Pelinck, J. GianottenD. A. Hoozemans, J. W. M. Maas, H. Groen, M. J. C. Eijkemans, F. van der Veen, B. W. J. Mol, M. van Wely*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


STUDY QUESTION: What is the cost-effectiveness of in vitro fertilization(IVF) with conventional ovarian stimulation, single embryotransfer (SET) and subsequent cryocycles or IVF in a modified natural cycle (MNC) compared with intrauterine insemination with controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (IUI-COH) as a first-line treatment in couples with unexplained subfertility and an unfavourable prognosis on natural conception?. SUMMARY ANSWER: Both IVF strategies are significantly more expensive when compared with IUI-COH, without being significantly more effective. In the comparison between IVF-MNC and IUI-COH, the latter is the dominant strategy. Whether IVF-SET is cost-effective depends on society's willingness to pay for an additional healthy child. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: IUI-COH and IVF, either after conventional ovarian stimulation or in a MNC, are used as first-line treatments for couples with unexplained or mild male subfertility. As IUI-COH is less invasive, this treatment is usually offered before proceeding to IVF. Yet, as conventional IVF with SET may lead to higher pregnancy rates in fewer cycles for a lower multiple pregnancy rate, some have argued to start with IVF instead of IUI-COH. In addition, IVF in the MNC is considered to be a more patient friendly and less costly form of IVF. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis alongside a randomized noninferiority trial. Between January 2009 and February 2012, 602 couples with unexplained infertility and a poor prognosis on natural conception were allocated to three cycles of IVF-SET including frozen embryo transfers, six cycles of IVF-MNC or six cycles of IUI-COH. These couples were followed until 12 months after randomization. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: We collected data on resource use related to treatment, medication and pregnancy from the case report forms. We calculated unit costs from various sources. For each of the three strategies, we calculated the mean costs and effectiveness. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) were calculated for IVF-SET compared with IUI-COH and for IVF-MNC compared with IUI-COH. Nonparametric bootstrap resampling was used to investigate the effect of uncertainty in our estimates. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: There were 104 healthy children (52%) born in the IVF-SET group, 83 (43%) the IVF-MNC group and 97 (47%) in the IUI-COH group. The mean costs per couple were (sic)7187 for IVF-SET, (sic)8206 for IVF-MNC and (sic)5070 for IUI-COH. Compared with IUI-COH, the costs for IVF-SET and IVF-MNC were significantly higher (mean differences (sic)2117; 95% CI: (sic)1544-(sic)2657 and (sic)3136, 95% CI: (sic)2519-(sic)3754, respectively). The ICER for IVF-SET compared with IUI-COH was (sic)43 375 for the birth of an additional healthy child. In the comparison of IVF-MNC to IUI-COH, the latter was the dominant strategy, i.e. more effective at lower costs. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: We only report on direct health care costs. The present analysis is limited to 12 months. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Since we found no evidence in support of offering IVF as a first-line strategy in couples with unexplained and mild subfertility, IUI-COH should remain the treatment of first choice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2331-2339
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • cost-effectiveness
  • intrauterine insemination
  • in vitro fertilization
  • modified natural cycle
  • single embryo transfer

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