Associations Between Antral Ovarian Follicle Dynamics and Hormone Production Throughout the Menstrual Cycle as Women Age

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The physiological origins of age-related changes in hormone production during the menstrual cycle are uncertain.


The objective of the study was to test the hypothesis that changes in antral follicle dynamics are associated with changes in hormone production as women age.


A prospective, observational study was conducted in ovulatory women of midreproductive age (MRA; 18–35 y; n = 10) and advanced reproductive age (ARA; 45–55 y; n = 20). The numbers and diameters of all follicles of 2 mm or greater were quantified ultrasonographically every 1–3 days for one interovulatory interval; the growth profiles of individually identified follicles of 4 mm or greater were tabulated. Blood samples were assayed for FSH, LH, estradiol, progesterone, inhibin A and B, and anti-Mullerian hormone.


Fifty percent of women in both the MRA and ARA groups developed one to two luteal-phase dominant follicles (LPDFs). MRA women with typical LPDFs had greater luteal-phase inhibin B (44.2 vs 17.0 ng/L) and estradiol (91.3 vs 51.7 ng/L) compared with those without LPDFs (P < .05). Luteal-phase estradiol was greater (184 vs 79 ng/L), inhibin B was greater (25.3 vs 12.7 ng/L), and progesterone was lower (6.98 vs 13.8 μg/L) in ARA women with atypical vs no LPDFs (P < .01).


Changes in antral follicle dynamics are associated with changes in hormone production as women age. The development of LPDFs in women of MRA was associated with elevated luteal-phase estradiol. A similar but exaggerated elevation in late luteal-early follicular-phase estradiol, accompanied by lower progesterone, was observed in ARA women with atypically large and persistent LPDFs.

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