RESEARCH QUESTION: Do maternal and perinatal outcomes differ between natural and programmed frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycles?
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study at a university-affiliated fertility centre including 775 patients who underwent programmed or natural FET cycles resulting in a singleton live birth using blastocysts vitrified between 2013 and 2018.
RESULTS: A total of 384 natural and 391 programmed FET singleton pregnancies were analysed. Programmed FET resulted in higher overall maternal complications (32.2% [126/391] versus 18.8% [72/384]; P < 0.01), including higher probability of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) (15.3% [60/391] versus 6.3% [24/384]; P < 0.01), preterm premature rupture of membranes (2.6% [10/391] versus 0.3% [1/384]; P = 0.02) and caesarean delivery (53.2% [206/387] versus 42.8% [163/381]; P = 0.03) compared with natural FET. After controlling for potential confounders, including age, body mass index, parity, smoking status, history of diabetes or chronic hypertension, infertility diagnosis, number of embryos transferred and use of preimplantation genetic testing, the adjusted odds ratio for HDP was 2.39 (95% CI 1.37 to 4.17) and for overall maternal complications was 2.21 (95% CI 1.51 to 3.22) comparing programmed with natural FET groups. The groups did not significantly differ for any perinatal outcomes analysed, including birth weight (3357.9 ± 671.6 g versus 3318.4 ± 616.2 g; P = 0.40) or rate of birth defects (1.5% [6/391] versus 2.1% [8/384]; P = 0.57), respectively.
CONCLUSION: Vitrified-warmed blastocyst transfer in a programmed cycle resulted in a twofold higher probability of HDP compared with transfer in a natural cycle. Natural FET cycle should, therefore, be recommended as first line for all eligible patients undergoing FET to reduce the risk of HDP.
Keywords: Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy In vitro fertilization Obstetric outcome Perinatal outcome Vitrified–warmed embryo transfer