The role of male hormones for women undergoing IVF

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Several fertility clinics in the US are starting to administer testosterone to women to increase the number of eggs produced for eventual IVF treatment. Women are also starting to take the supplement DHEA which is converted by the body into testosterone to boost chances of pregnancy with IVF.

May boost follicle development

Lacking convincing data on the effects of using male hormones, many women are giving it a try hoping to enhance their chances for pregnancy. Never the less, it’s still a choice with little known effect. A new study suggests that androgens, a male hormone, help with the development of follicles which release the eggs for fertilization. The use of androgens would provide potential biological targets to enhance fertility in women with diminished ovarian reserve. This condition is one where they produce few or no follicles in response to IVF drugs designed to create them.

Plenty of debate on the purpose of male hormones for infertility

“There is raging debate in the reproductive endocrinology field about what male hormones are doing in female fertility,” explained Stephen R. Hammes, MD, PhD, senior study author and professor of Endocrinology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Our study doesn’t solve the controversy, but, along with some earlier seminal studies from other groups, it does tell us that we can’t dismiss male hormones. They might actually be doing something useful.”

Androgens also make ovarian cells more sensitive to follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) by creating more FSH receptors. “Androgens are increasing follicle growth and ensuring follicles don’t die – exactly what you want when providing fertility treatment,” said Hammes.

Administering androgens may make sense for some women

“This information is important because it provides theoretical support for administering androgens to some women undergoing IVF, a practice that our fertility clinic and many others across the country have started in recent years,” said Hoeger. “If these data are confirmed in clinical trials, we could propose that raising low levels of androgens in a woman with diminished ovarian reserve might increase her ability to produce more and better eggs for fertilization.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Photo at Corbis Images


 
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