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

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Abstract

Background:

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

Objective:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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).

Conclusion:

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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