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Short Follicular Phase in Older Women

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Wednesday, April 09, 2008 | 0 comments

Is the Short Follicular Phase in Older Women Secondary to Advanced or Accelerated Dominant Follicle Development?

This study sought to determine whether the shortened follicular phase in ovulatory older women is secondary to advanced (i.e. earlier) or accelerated (i.e. more rapid) folliculogenesis. Normal ovulatory women, aged 40–45 yr (n = 15) and 20–25 yr (n = 13), underwent daily venipuncture and transvaginal ultrasonography> throughout the follicular phase of a spontaneous menstrual cycle (control cycle) and after pituitary down-regulation with a GnRH agonist (study cycle).

As expected, the older subjects in the control cycles demonstrated an elevated day 3 FSH and a shortened follicular phase compared with the younger subjects. After release from hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis suppression, the early follicular phase FSH peak occurred earlier (6.8 vs. 9.8 d; P greater than 0.01) and was of a greater magnitude (12.1 vs. 6.5 mIU/ml; P greater than 0.01) in the older subjects.

The time from release of suppression until the subsequent LH surge was also shorter (17.5 vs. 20.8 d; P greater than 0.01) in the older group. However, the time from FSH peak to LH surge was similar in the older and younger groups (10.7 vs. 11.0 d; P = 0.74). Compared with younger women, older subjects had normal follicular phase levels of estradiol and inhibin A and lower levels of inhibin B in both control and study cycles.

We conclude that the shortened follicular phase observed in older ovulatory women is due to earlier dominant follicle selection, independent of hormonal influences from the preceding luteal phase.


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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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