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Ovarian follicular development is initiated during the hormone-free interval of oral contraceptive use.

Author(s): Baerwald AR, Olatunbosun OA, Pierson RA

Affiliation(s): Women's Health Imaging Research Laboratory, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 0W8, Canada.

Publication date & source: 2004-11, Contraception., 70(5):371-7.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

We evaluated ovarian follicular development in women during compliant use of oral contraceptives (OC). Thirty-six healthy women received: [35 microg ethinyl estradiol (21)/180 microg norgestimate (7), 215 microg norgestimate (7), 250 microg norgestimate (7)]; [30 microg ethinyl estradiol (21)/150 microg desogestrel (21)]; or [20 microg ethinyl estradiol (21)/100 microg levonorgestrel (21)] for 3 consecutive 28-day cycles. Transvaginal ultrasonography was performed every third day to monitor follicular development. If a follicle reached > or = 14 mm, ultrasonography was performed daily and blood drawn every other day to determine estradiol-17beta concentrations. Seventeen of 36 women (47%) grew follicles > or = 10 mm. Nine of the 17 women (53%) grew follicles > or = 14 mm, in association with increased serum concentrations of estradiol-17beta. Thirty-seven of 43 follicles > or = 10 mm (86%) emerged during the hormone-free interval (HFI). No ovulations were observed. Our results supported the hypothesis that follicular development to an ostensibly ovulatory diameter occurs during compliant OC use, in association with loss of endocrine suppression during the HFI.

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