From the study subjects, 148 EP and 118 IUP patients either refused to participate in the interview or provided incomplete information in the questionnaire survey; these women were excluded from the study. Finally, 2411 EP patients and 2416 IUP controls were included in this study, and the response rate was 94.78 % (Fig. 1).
Table 1 presents the distribution of sociodemographic characteristics between both the groups. EP patients were more likely to be born out of Shanghai (p < 10−3), have lower education attainment (p < 10−3), and be self-employed/unemployed (p < 10−3). However, smoking showed no relevance with EP (occasional smoker: OR = 1.10, 95 % CI: 0.77–1.59; regular smoker: OR = 1.47, 95 % CI: 0.95–2.28; p = 0.41). Due to the matching criteria of cases and controls in each hospital, there showed no significant difference in age (p = 0.16), marital status (p = 0.56) and institutions (p = 1.00) between the two groups.
Table 2 revealed the results of the analyses of crude association between the risk of EP and history of reproduction, gynecology and surgery. The occurrence of EP were showed to have a crude association with some factors including parity (once: OR = 1.14, 95 % CI: 1.02–1.30; more than twice: OR = 1.58, 95 % CI: 1.27–1.96), previous EP (OR = 6.67, 95 % CI: 5.04–9.11), previous CT infection (OR = 3.83, 95 % CI: 3.27–4.48), history of infertility (OR = 4.42, 95 % CI: 3.53–5.53), in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET; OR = 5.01, 95 % CI: 1.53–16.44), previous adnexal surgeries (OR = 5.42, 95 % CI: 4.29–6.84), and previous appendectomy (OR = 1.67, 95 % CI: 1.21–2.31).
In terms of the contraceptive experience (Table 3), previous IUD use was also associated with a higher risk of EP with an OR of 1.48 (95 % CI: 1.25–1.74), whereas previous use of other methods including condom, rhythm method and withdrawal method was associated with a lower risk (OR = 0.39, 95 % CI: 0.34–0.45). Furthermore, a crude association was found between current use of most contraceptives and risk of EP (OCPs: OR = 2.71, 95 % CI: 1.11–6.61; LNG-EC: OR = 2.79, 95 % CI: 2.27–3.43; IUDs: OR = 11.41, 95 % CI: 7.45–17.48; female sterilization: OR = 12.45, 95 % CI: 2.91–53.18).
Table 4 shows the results of the multivariate analysis between the risk of EP and candidate risk factors. Poor education and occupation were found to be independently associated with the risk of EP. The results revealed that women with previous EP (adjusted OR [AOR] = 2.72, 95 % CI: 1.83–4.05), previous CT infection (AOR = 3.18, 95 % CI: 2.64–3.84), a history of infertility (AOR = 2.18, 95 % CI: 1.66–2.88), previous adnexal surgery (AOR = 2.09, 95 % CI: 1.49–2.93), and previous appendectomy (AOR = 1.64, 95 % CI: 1.13–2.37) were at a greater risk of having an EP. With regards to contraception, previous IUD use was found to slightly increase the risk of EP (AOR = 1.72, 95 % CI: 1.39–2.13), while previous use of other contraceptive methods including condom, rhythm method and withdrawal method were shown to protect women from the incidence of EP (AOR = 0.56, 95 % CI: 0.47–0.66). In addition, current use of most contraceptives was significantly correlated with the incidence of EP following contraceptive failure, and the risk varied across the different contraceptive methods (OCPs: AOR = 3.02, 95 % CI: 1.16–7.86; LNG-EC: AOR = 4.75, 95 % CI: 3.79–5.96; IUDs: AOR = 16.43, 95 % CI: 10.42–25.89; female sterilization: AOR = 4.73, 95 % CI: 1.04–21.52). Notably, among women with a history of infertility, those who resorted to IVF-ET in the current cycle of conception showed a higher risk of EP (AOR = 9.28, 95 % CI: 2.14–40.38) than those who got spontaneously pregnant, while the use of Chinese herbal medicine and other ART approaches was not associated with the risk of EP (Chinese herbal medicine: OR = 0.80, 95 % CI: 0.41–1.56; other ARTs: OR = 0.8, 95 % CI: 0.34–1.88).
Table 5 presents a stratified analysis of the association between EP risk and the ARTs applied in the current conception cycle, according to the different categories of infertility. In women with tubal infertility, IVF-ET was shown to significantly increase the risk of EP (AOR = 8.99, 95 % CI: 1.98–40.84). However, there were no significant associations between the risk of EP and IVF-ET among women with non-tubal infertility (AOR = 2.52, 95 % CI: 0.14–44.67). The risk of EP among women using Chinese herbs and other ARTs remained the same as that before stratification.