Objective: Our purpose was to study the hemodynamic changes in the uterine and intraovarian vessels during the normal menstrual cycle and to relate the vascular changes to hormonal index values.
Study design: Seven women who had bilateral tubal patency, a normal pelvis on laparoscopy, and regular ovulatory cycles underwent serial transvaginal ultrasonography on menstrual cycle day 2, daily from estimated day of ovulation-6, hourly from estimated day of ovulation-2, or when the mean follicular diameter was > 16 mm (whichever was earlier) until 6 hours after follicular rupture and once 7 days after follicular rupture. At each scan uterine and intraovarian blood flow was assessed with transvaginal color Doppler ultrasonography and serum concentrations of follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, estradiol, and progesterone assessed by fluoroimmunoassay.
Results: In one case there was evidence of a luteinized unruptured follicle and the patient was therefore excluded from analysis. In the other six women there was spontaneous ovulation at a mean of 39 hours after the onset of the luteinizing hormone surge. On the side with the dominant follicle, follicular and ovarian stromal peak systolic blood flow velocity rose significantly during the menstrual cycle with no significant change in pulsatility index. The changes in blood flow velocity correlated significantly with changes in serum follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone and progesterone concentrations. There were no significant changes in either blood flow velocity or pulsatility index in the contralateral ovary. Uterine artery time-averaged maximum velocity on the side of the developing ovarian follicle increased during the menstrual cycle with no significant change in the contralateral vessel. Uterine artery pulsatility index on the side of the developing follicle declined during the midluteal phase and was significantly lower than on the contralateral side. The changes in time-averaged maximum velocity correlated with the changes in serum estradiol and progesterone concentrations.
Conclusion: The vascular changes in the wall of the dominant ovarian follicle and ovarian stroma during the menstrual cycle are consistent with activity of angiogenic-like factors. The decline in uterine artery resistance during the midluteal phase may reflect optimal vascularity for implantation of the blastocyst.