To investigate the effects of sildenafil citrate (SC) on live birth rates (LBR) during women undergoing their first frozen embryo transfers (FET) with hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
This retrospective cohort study included a total of 10,069 infertile women with adequate endometrial thickness (≥7 mm when progesterone was initiated) in their first FET cycle with hormone replacement therapy. Women received either vaginal SC or no adjuvant during their first transfer cycle depending on patient or physician preference. In the sildenafil group, 1098 women underwent HRT FET with adjuvant vaginal use of SC, and 8971 women were included as controls. The primary outcome measure was LBR, defined as the likelihood of live birth per transfer cycle. Endometrial thickness (EMT), implantation, chemical pregnancy, clinical pregnancy, miscarriage, ongoing pregnancy, birth weight and preterm delivery (PTB) were also recorded.
Baseline characteristics were comparable between the two groups. In the crude analysis, the unadjusted LBR was significantly higher in the vaginal SC group (scHRT-FET) than in the control group (HRT-FET) (40.3% vs 36.1%). After adjustment for 12 pregnancy-related confounding factors, logistic regression analysis showed that LBR remained signiﬁcantly higher in the scHRT-FET group than in the HRT-FET group (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14–1.49). Furthermore, after adjustment, the ongoing pregnancy rate was signiﬁcantly higher (aOR 1.29, 95% CI 1.13–1.47), and the miscarriage rate was signiﬁcantly lower (aOR 0.58, 95% CI 0.43–0.77), in the scHRT-FET group compared to the HRT-FET group. Adjuvant vaginal use of SC did not increase the endometrial thickness and had no significant effect on birth weight or PTB.
Adjuvant vaginal use of SC in HRT FET was associated with higher LBR and improved pregnancy outcomes in an infertile population with adequate endometrial thickness. The beneficial effect of SC may be due not to an increase in EMT but instead to improve endometrial blood flow and receptivity, which might merit clinicians’ attention for improving general IVF practices.