Intrauterine insemination catheters for assisted reproduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the oldest and most practised form of assisted reproduction worldwide. We systematically reviewed the literature so that we could evaluate the use of soft versus firm catheters in subfertile women undergoing IUI.


Extensive searches were conducted for full-text manuscripts, conference abstracts, ongoing and unpublished trials. Primary outcomes were clinical pregnancy (CPR) and ongoing pregnancy (OPR)/live birth rates (LBRs) per woman. Secondary outcomes were multiple pregnancy rate (MPR) per clinical pregnancy, difficulty cannulating the cervix, bleeding and patient discomfort. Meta-analysis was performed using the Peto-modified Mantel-Haenszel fixed-effect model.


Seven randomized trials were identified, and four were excluded. No significant differences were noted for CPR and LBR per woman [OR=0.96, 95% CI=0.70–1.32 and OR=0.82, 95% CI=0.43–1.58, respectively]. As for the secondary outcomes, MPRs per cycle were also not significantly different. More difficulty was noted with soft catheters and more patient discomfort with firm catheters. Bleeding following the procedure was similar between the two groups.


Catheter choice during IUI does not seem to be a detrimental factor for success, as in other assisted reproduction techniques (ART). More studies are warranted to draw definitive conclusions and support the results of this systematic review.

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