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DHEA for Low Ovarian Reserve: The First Patient

The Center for Human Reproduction’s Dr. Norbert Gleicher explains that the decade-long DHEA research at CHR started with a 42-year-old woman with low functional ovarian reserve (LFOR) who suddenly started producing high-quality eggs and embryos because she had secretly been taking DHEA.

The history of DHEA supplementation in women with low functional ovarian reserve at CHR is a patient driven history because the person who initiated our now twelve-year long research in this area was a patient. It was a time of representation, woman in her forties I think she was 42 and a half years old or so. Were presented to us and she was found to have very low functional ovarian reserve and indeed so low that I recommended to her, she go into egg donation. She insisted on trying and in her first cycle she produced only one egg. She also wanted to freeze her embryos because she wasn’t readu socially to be pregnant yet at that time. So we froze that embryo and she and I had another conversation and I told that this really does not make any sense and she begged and begged and said give me one more chance chance and so I said okay one more but if it’s again only one that will be it. In the next cycle she produced three beautiful eggs and three beautiful embryos and so we could no longer refuse her and this woman who was well off, was very well-educated she was a lawyer of a banker, she then went month after month and every month she produced more eggs and more embryos, and we were kind of scratching our heads what was going on after six cycles she was already 43 at that point and this was roughly twelve years ago, 43 in those years was quite ancient. She one day came smiling into my office and said Dr Gleicher I have to tell you a little secret and the secret she told me was that after the first cycle when I had told her that she would have at best one more cycle, she had gone to the medical literature and she had found a number of papers of which had recommended different treatments to improve egg numbers and she choose the DHEA because it was the only one which was available over-the-counter in the US and she therefore didn’t have to tell us, and so suddenly and we understood here at CHR that what we had been observing, this constant increase month after month in her egg numers and embroys may have something to do with her taking this DHEA, and she continued even beyond six cycles and she continued getting better to such a degree actually that the I don’t remember if it was the tenth or eleventh cycle we had to take her medication dosage down because she developed typical ovaries that looked like polycystic ovaries like polycystic ovary syndrome which you usually see only young women ok so that observation with that one patient which we then published lead us into starting to investigate the aging