In vitro fertilization outcomes in treated hypothyroidism

Andrea Busnelli, Edgardo Somigliana, Laura Benaglia, Marta Leonardi, Guido Ragni, Luigi Fedele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Levothyroxine has been shown to enhance pregnancy outcomes in women with hypothyroidism requiring in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, the precise magnitude of these benefits remains to be determined. In particular, it has yet to be clarified whether levothyroxine may fully overcome the detrimental effects of hypothyroidism or, conversely, whether affected women remain at reduced prognosis for pregnancy outcomes. Methods: Patients who underwent IVF-intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) over a 3-year period were reviewed. Cases were deemed eligible if they were diagnosed with clinical or subclinical hypothyroidism and were receiving levothyroxine. Controls were two subsequently age-matched euthyroid women for every case. Both cases and controls were selected only if serum thyrotropin was ≤2.5 mIU/L. Results: In total, 137 women with treated hypothyroidism and 274 controls were included. Baseline characteristics of the two study groups were similar with the exception of body mass index, which was slightly higher among the cases (22.9±3.9 vs. 21.9±3.3 kg/m2, p=0.013). Most IVF-ICSI cycle outcome variables were also similar, with the exception of a higher rate of cancellation for poor response (3.6% vs. 0.7%, p=0.04), a longer duration of stimulation (10.9±2.2 vs. 10.1±2.0 days, p=0.001), a higher proportion of women failing to obtain viable embryos (17% vs. 7%, p=0.006), and a lower fertilization rate (75% vs. 86%, p=0.017) among cases. Conversely, the clinical pregnancy rate per started cycle, the implantation rate, and the live birth rate per started cycle did not differ; they were 36% and 34% (p=0.93), 28% and 22% (p=0.11), and 30% and 27% (p=0.50) in cases and controls, respectively. Subgroup analyses comparing women with (n=79) and without (n=58) thyroid autoimmunity and comparing women who were diagnosed with overt hypothyroidism (n=70) or subclinical hypothyroidism (n=67) failed to identify relevant differences. Conclusions: In our population, IVF-ICSI outcome was not significantly hampered in women with adequately treated hypothyroidism. The magnitude of the detected differences in cycle outcome was mild, and we failed to document any differences for the most relevant outcomes, i.e., pregnancy rate, implantation rate, and delivery rate. In conclusion, adequate levothyroxine treatment maintaining thyrotropin serum levels below 2.5 mIU/L may overcome the detrimental effects of hypothyroidism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1325
Number of pages7
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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