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Threefold increased risk of infertility: a meta-analysis of infertility after ileal pouch anal anastomosis in ulcerative colitis
  1. A Waljee1,
  2. J Waljee2,
  3. A M Morris3,
  4. P D R Higgins4
  1. 1University of Michigan, Department of Internal Medicine, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  2. 2University of Michigan, Department of Surgery, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  3. 3University of Michigan, Division of Colorectal Surgery, Department of Surgery, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  4. 4University of Michigan, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr P D R Higgins
    Division of Gastroenterology, University of Michigan, 6520 MSRB I, Box 0682, 1150 West Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; phiggins{at}


Background: Increased infertility in women has been reported after ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA) for ulcerative colitis but reported infertility rates vary substantially.

Aims: (1) To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the relative risk of infertility post-IPAA compared with medical management; (2) to estimate the rate of infertility post-IPAA; and (3) to identify modifiable risk factors which contribute to infertility.

Methods: Medline, EMBASE, Current Contents, meeting abstracts, and bibliographies were searched independently by two investigators. The titles and abstracts of 189 potentially relevant studies were reviewed; eight met the criteria and all data were extracted independently. Consensus was achieved on each data point, and fixed effects meta-analyses, a funnel plot, and sensitivity analyses were performed.

Results: The initial meta-analysis of eight studies had significant heterogeneity (p = 0.004) due to one study with very high preoperative infertility (38%). When this study was omitted, the relative risk of infertility after IPAA was 3.17 (2.41–4.18), with non-significant heterogeneity. The weighted average infertility rate in medically treated ulcerative colitis was 15% for all seven studies, and the weighted average infertility rate was 48% after IPAA (50% if all eight studies are included). We were unable to identify any procedural factors that consistently affected the risk of infertility.

Conclusions: IPAA increases the risk of infertility in women with ulcerative colitis by approximately threefold. Infertility, defined as achieving pregnancy in 12 months of attempting conception, increased from 15% to 48% in women post-IPAA for ulcerative colitis. This provides a basis for counselling patients considering colectomy with IPAA. Further studies of modifiable risk factors are needed.

  • UC, ulcerative colitis
  • IPAA, ileal pouch-anal anastomosis
  • FAP, familial adenomatous polyposis
  • RR, relative risk
  • IRA, ileorectal anastomosis
  • ulcerative colitis
  • ileal pouch-anal anastomosis
  • infertility
  • fertility
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  • Published online first 13 June 2006

  • Dr Higgins receives funding for research on inflammatory bowel disease from the National Institutes of Health, the American Gastroenterological Association, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Dr Higgins is also the local site investigator at the University of Michigan for industry funded leucopheresis device trials for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and receives funding to conduct these trials from Otsuka America.

  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

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