The use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection is associated with a shift in the secondary sex ratio

Reprod Biomed Online. 2018 Dec;37(6):703-708. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2018.09.009. Epub 2018 Oct 6.


Research question: What is the association between assisted reproductive technologies and human sex ratio as a proportion of male offspring at birth.

Design: A total of 59,628 singleton deliveries resulting from IVF, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) or ovulation induction from 101 IVF clinics in Germany, that had been documented in a national German IVF registry, were analysed. Sex ratio after assisted reproductive technology was also compared with the sex ratio reported in the birth records of the German Federal Statistical Office.

Results: The sex ratio was 50.0% (95% CI 49.5% to 50.5%) for ICSI, 52.2% (95% CI 51.5% to 52.9%) for IVF, 52.2% (95% CI 50.9% to 53.5%) for IUI or ovulation induction and 51.3% in the national birth records, respectively. Significant differences existed across the three treatment groups (P = 6.86 × 10-7) as well as in pairwise comparisons between ICSI versus IVF (P = 6.88 × 10-7) and ICSI versus IUI or ovulation induction (P = 0.003). No difference existed between the groups IUI or ovulation induction versus IVF. Same results were also present after stratification by maternal age: IVF versus ICSI (P = 6.433 × 10-7), ICSI versus IUI or ovulation induction (P = 0.003), and IVF versus IUI or ovulation induction (non-significant). Compared with the national birth records, ICSI is associated with a lower sex ratio compared with the reference group (P < 0.001), whereas IVF is associated with a higher sex ratio (P = 0.015).

Conclusions: The use of ICSI is associated with an equal proportion of sexes at birth, which is not the case for IVF, IUI or ovulation induction, or natural conception. This phenomenon is not influenced by maternal age.

Keywords: IVF; Icsi; Intrauterine insemination; Ovulation induction; Secondary sex ratio.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Sex Ratio*
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic*