Male factor infertility (MFI) is a common medical condition which requires high quality research to guide clinical practice; however, systematic reviews (SRs) and meta-analyses (MAs) often vary in quality, raising concerns regarding the validity of their results. We sought to perform an objective analysis of SRs and MAs in MFI treatment and management and to report on the quality of published literature.
A comprehensive search in PubMed/MEDLINE and EMBASE was used to identify relevant publications. Primary search terms were male infertility, male sterility, and male subfertility. Two authors independently performed searches, screened citations for eligibility, extracted data for analysis, and graded methodological quality using the validated AMSTAR (A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews) instrument, a validated tool used in the critical appraisal of SRs/MAs.
27 publications met inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. Mean AMSTAR score (± SD) among all publications was 7.4 (1.9) out of 11, reflecting "fair to good" quality. Non-pharmacological medical treatment for MFI was the most commonly assessed intervention (n=13, 48.1%). No publications met all AMSTAR criteria. While the number of SRs/MAs has increased over time (p=0.037), the quality of publications has not significantly changed (p=0.72). SRs/MAs of the Cochrane Library had higher AMSTAR score than non-Cochrane SRs/MAs (8.5 vs 6.3, p=0.002).
The methodological quality of SRs/MAs should be assessed to ensure high-quality evidence for clinical practice guidelines in MFI treatment and management. This review highlights a need for increased effort to publish high-quality studies in MFI treatment and management.
Andrology. 2021 Jan 11 [Epub ahead of print]
Hriday P Bhambhvani, Daniel R Greenberg, Michael L Eisenberg
Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Urology, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA, USA., Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Urology, 303 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, USA.