Objective: To evaluate the hypothesis that pretreatment with estrogens in women affected by premature ovarian failure (POF) may improve the results of ovarian stimulation.
Design: Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study.
Setting: Outpatient department in an academic research environment.
Patient(s): Fifty women with POF seeking pregnancy.
Intervention(s): Before starting ovarian stimulation, group 1 received 0.05 mg ethinyl-E(2) (EE) three times a day for 2 weeks, while group 2 received placebo. Ovarian stimulation was carried out with recombinant FSH (r-betaFSH), 200 IU/day/SC. Both EE and placebo were administered during ovarian stimulation. Human chorionic gonadotropin (10,000 IU/IM) was added when the follicle exceeded a mean diameter of 18 mm.
Main outcome measure: Rate of ovulation in women with POF.
Result(s): Levels of FSH before stimulation were significantly lower in group 1 than in group 2. The rate of ovulation in group 1 (8/25; 32%) was significantly higher than in group 2 (0/25; 0%). Notably, induction of ovulation was successful only in patients whose FSH levels after EE treatment were < or =15 mIU/mL.
Conclusion(s): Our data suggest that pretreatment with EE improves the success of rate of ovulation induction with exogenous gonadotropins in patients with POF. A threshold of FSH < or =15 mIU/mL should be achieved before starting ovarian stimulation.