Assessment of endocrine status in patients undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatment

Research paper by U. Zollner, K. Lanig, T. Steck, J. Dietl

Indexed on: 01 Mar '01Published on: 01 Mar '01Published in: Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics


Endocrine evaluation as a prerequisite for every patient undergoing routine in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer for tubal or male factor infertility is still a matter of debate. The aim of this study was to determine if a full endocrine work-up, including the measurement of androgens, gonadotropins, prolactin and TSH, is conclusive for the subsequent success in IVF/ET. 71 infertile women without known endocrinopathies (e.g., polycystic ovarian disease), who were scheduled to enter the IVF/ET program were studied under strictly standardized conditions during the follicular phase of a natural cycle. Fasting serum concentrations of follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, oestradiol, progesterone, prolactin, testosterone (T), dehydroepiandrosterone, 17-OH-progesterone, androstenedione and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) were measured using commercially available radioimmunoassays. Ovarian stimulation was performed by a long gonadotrophin-releasing hormone agonist/human menopausal gonadotrophin protocol. The overall clinical pregnancy rate was 15.5% in the first started IVF cycle. While patients who conceived in the first treatment cycle had significantly lower T levels (368±49 pg/ml) than those who did not (518±27 pg/ml, p=0.042, Kruskal & Wallis H-test), but the percentage of women with elevated T concentrations was not different. Similarly, TSH concentrations were significantly higher in women with a clinical pregnancy (1.9±0.2 mU/ml) than in non-pregnant women (1.4±0.3 mU/ml, p=0.046), but levels were still within the normal range. There were no further significant differences in hormone levels between pregnant and non-pregnant patients. These results do not suggest the measurement of a full hormonal profile in all infertile women before IVF/ET in non-endocrine infertility, taking into account the low likelihood to identify endocrinological disturbances, the considerable cost of endocrine testing and the paucity of therapeutic consequences