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The effect of intercourse on pregnancy rates during assisted human reproduction

Tremellen K P, Valbuena D, Landeras J, Ballesteros A, Martinez J, Mendoza S, Norman R J, Robertson S A, Simon C,
Hum Reprod. Dec. 2000 doi: 10.1093/humrep/15.12.2653
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Abstract

Intercourse during an IVF cycle has the potential to improve pregnancy rates since exposure to semen is reported to promote embryo development and implantation in animals. Conversely, coitus-induced uterine contractions or introduction of infection may have a detrimental effect. A multicentre prospective randomized control trial was conducted to determine if intercourse during the peri-transfer period of an IVF cycle has any influence on pregnancy success. Participants undergoing thawed embryo transfer (Australian centre) or fresh embryo transfers (Spanish centres) were randomized either to abstain or to engage in vaginal intercourse around the time of embryo transfer. The transfer of 1343 embryos during 478 cycles of IVF resulted in 107 pregnancies (22.4%), with 125 viable embryos remaining by 6-8 weeks gestation. There was no significant difference between the intercourse and abstain groups in relation to the pregnancy rate (23.6 and 21.2% respectively), but the proportion of transferred embryos that were viable at 6-8 weeks was significantly higher in women exposed to semen compared to those who abstained (11.01 versus 7.69 viable embryos per 100 transferred embryos, P = 0.036, odds ratio 1.48, 95% confidence interval 1.01-2.19). Hence exposure to semen around the time of embryo transfer increases the likelihood of successful early embryo implantation and development.