Current ovarian stimulation regimens for IVF are complex and not without risk. Increasing our knowledge of the physiology of follicle development and dominant follicle selection may enable the design of less complex, safer and cheaper ovarian stimulation regimens for IVF. Decremental serum FSH concentrations during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle are required for single dominant follicle selection. Only the most mature follicle will continue its development due to increased sensitivity for stimulation by FSH. FSH stimulation becomes insufficient for less mature follicles and remaining cohort follicles will therefore go into atresia. The number of days during which FSH is above the threshold for stimulation of follicle development is limited, resulting in a narrow FSH window. More medium sized and large pre-ovulatory follicles and increased oestradiol output can be induced by the administration of small doses of exogenous FSH during the mid- to late follicular phase, preventing the physiological decrease in FSH stimulation. Intervention with decremental serum FSH concentrations in combination with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonists to prevent a premature rise in serum LH may induce ongoing growth of multiple follicles sufficient for IVF. The benefits and risks of these minimal hyperstimulation protocols require further evaluation.

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Human Reproduction Update
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Smacklon, N., & Fauser, B. (2000). Regulation of follicle development and novel approaches to ovarian stimulation for IVF. Human Reproduction Update. Retrieved from