Vitamin D deficiency and pregnancy rates in women undergoing single embryo, blastocyst stage, transfer (SET) for IVF/ICSI

Hum Reprod. 2014 Sep;29(9):2032-40. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deu156. Epub 2014 Jun 20.


Study question: What is the influence of vitamin D deficiency on pregnancy rates among women undergoing IVF/ICSI and Day 5 (blastocyst stage) single embryo transfer (SET)?

Summary answer: Vitamin D deficiency results in significantly lower pregnancy rates in women undergoing single blastocyst transfer.

What is known already: Preliminary experiments have identified the presence of vitamin D receptors in the female reproductive system. However, results regarding the effect of vitamin D deficiency on clinical outcomes are conflicting. None of the previous studies adopted a SET strategy.

Study design, size, duration: Serum vitamin D concentration was measured retrospectively in patients who underwent SET on Day 5. Overall 368 consecutive infertile women treated within a period of 15 months were included in the study.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: All patients underwent ovarian stimulation for IVF/ICSI and Day 5 SET. Serum samples were obtained 7 days prior to embryo transfer and stored frozen at -20°C. Samples were collectively analyzed for their 25-OH vitamin D content. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as serum 25-OH vitamin D levels <20 ng/ml in accordance with the Institute of Medicine and the Endocrine Society clinical practice guidelines.

Main results and the role of chance: Clinical pregnancy rates were significantly lower in women with vitamin D deficiency compared with those with higher vitamin D values (41 versus 54%, P = 0.015).Logistic regression analysis was performed to identify whether vitamin D deficiency is independently associated with clinical pregnancy rates after controlling for 16 potential confounding factors. According to our results vitamin D deficiency was independently associated with lower clinical pregnancy rates, odds ratios [ORs (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.61 (0.39-0.95)] for vitamin D deficiency (deficient versus non-deficient women), P = 0.030. Finally, even when restricting our analysis to women undergoing elective SET (274 patients), vitamin D deficiency was again independently associated with pregnancy rates [OR (95% CI) 0.56 (0.33-0.93), P = 0.024].

Limitations, reasons for caution: Our results refer only to patients undergoing Day 5 SET. Although vitamin D deficiency appears to compromise pregnancy rates in this population, no guidance can be provided regarding a potential relationship between vitamin D deficiency and ovarian reserve or response to ovarian stimulation.

Wider implications of the findings: Vitamin D deficiency impairs pregnancy rates in women undergoing single blastocyst transfer. Future prospective confirmatory studies are needed to validate our results and examine the exact underlying mechanism by which vitamin D levels may impair pregnancy rates in infertile women undergoing IVF/ICSI.

Study funding/competing interests: None declared.

Keywords: IVF; pregnancy; single embryo transfer; vitamin D deficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / complications*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Single Embryo Transfer*
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*


  • Vitamin D