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Undergoing varicocele repair before assisted reproduction improves pregnancy rate and live birth rate in azoospermic and oligospermic men with a varicocele: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate how varicocele repair (VR) impacts pregnancy (PRs) and live birth rates in infertile couples undergoing assisted reproduction wherein the male partner has oligospermia or azoospermia and a history of varicocele.

DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

SETTING: Not applicable.

PATIENT(S): Azoospermic and oligospermic males with varicoceles and in couples undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) with IUI, IVF, or testicular sperm extraction (TESE) with IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

INTERVENTION(S): Measurement of PRs, live birth, and sperm extraction rates.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Odds ratios for the impact of VR on PRs, live birth, and sperm extraction rates for couples undergoing ART.

RESULT(S): Seven articles involving a total of 1,241 patients were included. Meta-analysis showed that VR improved live birth rates for the oligospermic (odds ratio [OR] = 1.699) and combined oligospermic/azoospermic groups (OR = 1.761). Pregnancy rates were higher in the azoospermic group (OR = 2.336) and combined oligospermic/azoospermic groups (OR = 1.760). Live birth rates were higher for patients undergoing IUI after VR (OR = 8.360). Sperm retrieval rates were higher in persistently azoospermic men after VR (OR = 2.509).

CONCLUSION(S): Oligospermic and azoospermic patients with clinical varicocele who undergo VR experience improved live birth rates and PRs with IVF or IVF/ICSI. For persistently azoospermic men after VR requiring TESE for IVF/ICSI, VR improves sperm retrieval rates. Therefore, VR should be considered to have substantial benefits for couples with a clinical varicocele even if oligospermia or azoospermia persists after repair and ART is required.

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