Publications by authors named "W Ombelet"

135 Publications

Improving IUI success by performing modified slow-release insemination and a patient-centred approach in an insemination programme with partner semen: a prospective cohort study.

Facts Views Vis Obgyn 2021 Dec;13(4):359-367

Background: Pregnancy rates after in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment continue to improve, while intrauterine insemination (IUI) programmes show no such trend. There is a need to improve success rates with IUI to retain it as a viable option for couples who prefer avoiding IVF as a first line treatment.

Objective: To investigate if a modified slow-release insemination (SRI) increases the clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) after intrauterine insemination (IUI) with partner semen.

Materials And Methods: This was a prospective cohort study in a Belgian tertiary fertility centre. Between July 2011 and December 2018, we studied data from an ongoing prospective cohort study including 989 women undergoing 2565 IUI procedures for unexplained or mild/moderate male infertility. These data were analysed in order to study the importance of different covariates influencing IUI success. Generalised estimating equations (GEEs) were used for statistical analysis. Results of two periods (2011-2015, period 1 and 2016-2018, period 2) were examined and compared. From January 2016 (period 2) onwards, a standardised SRI procedure instead of bolus injection of sperm was applied. The primary outcome parameter was the difference in clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) per cycle between period 1 (bolus IUI) and period 2 (modified SRI). Secondary outcome results included all other parameters significantly influencing CPR after IUI.

Results: Following the application of modified SRI the CPR increased significantly, from 9.03% (period 1) to 13.52% (period 2) (p = 0.0016). Other covariates significantly influencing CPR were partner's age, smoking/non-smoking partner, BMI patient, ovarian stimulation protocol and Inseminating Motile Count (after semen processing).

Conclusions: Conclusions: The intentional application of modified slow-release of processed semen appears to significantly increase CPRs after IUI with homologous semen. Future studies should investigate whether SRI, patient-centred measures, or a combination of both, are responsible for this improvement.
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December 2021

Sperm quality and absence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in semen after COVID-19 infection: a prospective, observational study and validation of the SpermCOVID test.

Fertil Steril 2021 Dec 20. Epub 2021 Dec 20.

Department of Hormonology and Reproductive Health, Algemeen Medisch Laboratorium (AML), Sonic Healthcare, Antwerp, Belgium; Department of Clinical and Molecular Pathology, AML, Sonic Healthcare, Antwerp, Belgium.

Objective: To study the contagiousness of sperm and its influence on fertility after recovery from COVID-19 infection.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: University medical center.

Patient(s): One hundred twenty Belgian men who had recovered from proven COVID-19 infection.

Intervention(s): No intervention was performed.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Sermm quality was assessed using the World Health Organisation criteria. DNA damage to sperm cells was assessed by quantifying the DNA fragmentation index and the high density stainability. Finally antibodies against SARS-CoV2 spike-1 antigen, nuclear and S1-receptor binding domain were measured by Elisa and chemilumenscent microparticle immunoassays, repsectively.

Result(s): SARS-CoV-2 RNA was not detected in semen during the period shortly after infection nor at a later time. Mean progressive motility was reduced in 60% of men tested shortly (<1 month) after COVID-19 infection, 37% of men tested 1 to 2 months after COVID-19 infection, and 28% of men tested >2 months after COVID-19 infection. Mean sperm count was reduced in 37% of men tested shortly (<1 month) after COVID-19 infection, 29% of men tested 1 to 2 months after COVID-19 infection, and 6% of men tested >2 months after COVID-19 infection. The severity of COVID-19 infection and the presence of fever were not correlated with sperm characteristics, but there were strong correlations between sperm abnormalities and the titers of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody against spike 1 and the receptor- binding domain of spike 1, but not against nucleotide, in serum. High levels of antisperm antibodies developed in three men (2.5%).

Conclusion(s): Semen is not infectious with SARS-CoV-2 at 1 week or more after COVID-19 infection (mean, 53 days). However, couples with a desire for pregnancy should be warned that sperm quality after COVID-19 infection can be suboptimal. The estimated recovery time is 3 months, but further follow-up studies are under way to confirm this and to determine if permanent damage occurred in a minority of men.
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December 2021

Simplified sperm testing devices: a possible tool to overcome lack of accessibility and inconsistency in male factor infertility diagnosis. An opportunity for low- and middle- income countries.

Facts Views Vis Obgyn 2021 Mar 31;13(1):79-93. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Genk Institute for Fertility Technology, Genk, Belgium.

Background: Manual semen assessment (MSA) is a key component in a male's fertility assessment. Clinicians rely on it to make diagnostic and treatment decisions. When performed manually, this routine laboratory test is prone to variability due to human intervention which can lead to misdiagnosis and consequently over- or under- treatment. For standardisation, continuous training, quality control (QC) programs and pricy Computer-Assisted Sperm Analysis (CASA) systems have been proposed, yet, without resolving intra- and inter-laboratory variability. In response, promising simplified sperm testing devices, able to provide cost-effective point-of-care male infertility diagnosis are prospected as a plausible solution to resolve variability and increase access to sperm testing.

Materials And Methods: A throughout literature research for semen testing, sperm analysis, smart-phone assisted semen analysis, 'at-home' semen testing, male infertility, infertility in developing countries, infertility in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and quantitative sperm analysis was performed. A total of 14 articles, specific to 'at-home' simplified sperm assessment, were included to treat the core subject.

Results: Continuous training and consistent QC, are sine qua none conditions to achieve accurate and comparable MSA. Compliance does not rule-out variability, nevertheless. Emerging simplified sperm assessment devices are an actual alternative to resolve the lack of standardisation and accessibility to sperm analysis. YO ® , SEEM ® , and ExSeed ® are commercially available, user-friendly smartphone-based devices which can accurately measure volume, sperm concentration (millions/ml) and total motile sperm count. More broadly, by cost-effectiveness, availability, accuracy and convenient application, these devices could effectively select patients for first-line artificial reproduction treatments such as intrauterine insemination.

Conclusions: Accuracy and cost-effectiveness make smart-phone based sperm testing devices a practical and realistic solution to overcome variability in MSA. Importantly, these tools represent an actual opportunity to standardise and improve male subfertility diagnosis and treatment, especially in LMIC. However, before clinical application is possible, guidelines, further testing with special attention on accuracy in washed sperm, availability, cost-benefit and reliability are required.
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March 2021

Negative Impact of Elevated DNA Fragmentation and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Presence in Sperm on the Outcome of Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI).

J Clin Med 2021 Feb 11;10(4). Epub 2021 Feb 11.

Genk Institute for Fertility Technology, ZOL Hospitals, 3600 Genk, Belgium.

We wanted to determine the sperm DNA fragmentation index (DFI) cutoff for clinical pregnancies in women receiving intra-uterine insemination (IUI) with this sperm and to assess the contribution of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection on sperm DNA damage and its impact on clinical pregnancies. Prospective non-interventional multi-center study with 161 infertile couples going through 209 cycles of IUI in hospital fertility centers in Flanders, Belgium. Measurement of DFI and HPV DNA with type specific quantitative PCRs (HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 59, 66 and 68) in sperm before its use in IUI. Clinical pregnancy (CP) rate was used as the outcome to analyze the impact on fertility outcome and to calculated the clinical cutoff value for DFI. A DFI criterion value of 26% was obtained by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Couples with a male DFI > 26% had significantly less CPs than couples with DFI below 26% (OR 0.0326; 95% CI 0.0019 to 0.5400; = 0.017). In sperm, HPV prevalence was 14.8%/IUI cycle. Sperm samples containing HPV had a significantly higher DFI compared to HPV negative sperm samples (29.8% vs. 20.9%; = 0.011). When HPV-virions were present in sperm, no clinical pregnancies were observed. More than 1 in 5 of samples with normal semen parameters (17/78; 21.8%) had an elevated DFI or was HPV positive. Sperm DFI is a robust predictor of clinical pregnancies in women receiving IUI with this sperm. When DFI exceeds 26%, clinical pregnancies are less likely and in vitro fertilization techniques should be considered.
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February 2021

WHO fact sheet on infertility gives hope to millions of infertile couples worldwide.

Willem Ombelet

Facts Views Vis Obgyn 2020 Jan 8;12(4):249-251. Epub 2020 Jan 8.

Genk Institute for Fertility Technology, ZOL Hospitals, Schiepse Bos 6, 3600 Genk, Belgium.

Although the consequences of infertility are often severe in LMIC (Low and Middle Income Countries), national and international health strategies have always focussed on reducing total fertility rates while infertility care has received no attention at all. Access to infertility care can only be achieved when good quality but affordable infertility care is linked to more effective family planning programmes. Only a global project with respect to socio-cultural, ethical, economical and political differences can be successful. The 2020 WHO fact sheet on infertility cannot be misunderstood; global access to high-quality services for family planning including fertility care is one of the core elements of reproductive health. Different strategies are presented.
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January 2020