Top quality blastocyst formation rates in relation to progesterone levels on the day of oocyte maturation in GnRH antagonist IVF/ICSI cycles

PLoS One. 2017 May 17;12(5):e0176482. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176482. eCollection 2017.


Cycles with progesterone elevation during controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) for IVF/ICSI are commonly managed with a "freeze-all" strategy, due to a well-recognized detrimental effect of high progesterone levels on endometrial receptivity. However, also a detrimental effect of elevated progesterone on day-3 embryo quality has recently been found with regards to top quality embryo formation rate. Because blastocyst culture and cryopreservation are largely adopted, we deemed relevant to determine whether this detrimental effect is also seen on blastocyst quality on day 5-6. This issue was investigated through a large two-center retrospective study including 986 GnRH antagonist IVF/ICSI cycles and using top quality blastocyst formation rate as the main outcome. Results showed that on multivariate analysis sperm motility (p<0.01) and progesterone levels at ovulation triggering (p = 0.01) were the only two variables that significantly predicted top quality blastocyst formation rate after adjusting for relevant factors including female age, BMI, basal AMH and total dose of FSH used for COS. More specifically, progesterone levels at induction showed an inverse relation with top quality blastocyst formation (correlation coefficient B = -1.08, 95% CI -1.9 to -0.02) and ROC curve analysis identified P level >1.49 ng/ml as the best cut-off for identification of patients at risk for the absence of top quality blastocysts (AUC 0.55, p<0.01). Our study is the first to investigate the top quality blastocyst formation rate in relation to progesterone levels in IVF/ICSI cycles, showing that increasing progesterone is associated with lower rates of top quality blastocyst. Hence, the advantages of prolonging COS to maximize the number of collected oocytes might eventually be hindered by a decrease in top quality blastocysts available for transfer, if increasing progesterone levels are observed. This observation extends the results of two recent studies focused on day-3 embryos and deserves further research.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blastocyst / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Hormone Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Hormone Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Oocyte Maturation Techniques / methods*
  • In Vitro Oocyte Maturation Techniques / standards
  • Oocytes / cytology
  • Oocytes / drug effects*
  • Ovulation Induction / methods*
  • Ovulation Induction / standards
  • Pregnancy
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • Progesterone / therapeutic use
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic / methods*
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic / standards


  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Progesterone

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.