Effects of transdermal testosterone application on the ovarian response to FSH in poor responders undergoing assisted reproduction technique—a prospective, randomized, double-blind study

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In primates, androgens can play a synergistic role with FSH in promoting the early follicular recruitment, which is critical in assisted reproduction technique programmes. OBJECTIVE: To assess whether poor responders can benefit from androgen application.


Inclusion criteria were a previous poor ovarian response to controlled ovarian stimulation and a decreased hormonal ovarian reserve. Selected women were randomized to receive either transdermal application of testosterone (n=24) or placebo (n=25) gel for 15 days before FSH treatment for a second IVF cycle. Similar GnRH analogue and equivalent FSH daily doses were used in both cycles. The primary outcome was the total number of oocytes retrieved.


Testosterone gel application resulted in a significant increase in plasma testosterone levels but did not significantly improve the antral follicle count. Furthermore, after gel application, the main parameters of the ovarian response (numbers of pre-ovulatory follicles, total and mature oocytes and embryos) did not significantly differ between testosterone and placebo-treated patients.


No significant beneficial effects of androgen administration on the ovarian response to FSH could be demonstrated. However, subsequent clinical trials are needed to determine whether an optimal dose and/or a longer duration of testosterone administration may be helpful.

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