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Biol Reprod. 2003 Sep;69(3):1023-31. Epub 2003 May 14.

Characterization of ovarian follicular wave dynamics in women.

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Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 0W8.


A wave phenomenon of ovarian follicular development in women has recently been documented in our laboratory. The objective of the present study was to characterize follicular waves to determine whether women exhibit major and minor wave patterns of follicle development during the interovulatory interval (IOI). The ovaries of 50 women with clinically normal menstrual cycles were examined daily using transvaginal ultrasonography for one IOI. Profiles of the diameters of all follicles >or=4 mm and the numbers of follicles >or=5 mm were graphed during the IOI. Major waves were defined as those in which one follicle grew to >or=10 mm and exceeded all other follicles by >or=2 mm. Minor waves were defined as those in which follicles developed to a diameter of <10 mm and follicle dominance was not manifest. Blood samples were drawn to measure serum concentrations of estradiol-17beta, LH, and FSH. Women exhibited major and minor patterns of follicular wave dynamics during the IOI. Of the 50 women evaluated, 29/34 women with two follicle waves (85.3%) exhibited a minor-major wave pattern of follicle development and 5 women (14.7%) exhibited a major-major wave pattern. Ten of the 16 women with three follicle waves (62.5%) exhibited a minor-minor-major wave pattern, 3 women (18.8%) exhibited a minor-major-major wave pattern, and 3 women (18.8%) exhibited a major-major-major wave pattern. Documentation of major and minor follicular waves during the menstrual cycle challenges the traditional theory that a single cohort of antral follicles grows only during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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