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Early-Stage Eggs Can Benefit from Androgens/DHEA

The Center for Human Reproduction’s Dr. Norbert Gleicher explains that early-stage eggs can benefit from androgen supplementation long before ovulation.

By early stages, we mean the stages after eggs are recruited to go into maturation. Women are born with their eggs and those eggs are sitting in the ovaries in a very primitive stage, within very primitive follicles, so-called resting stage. It’s kind of like they’re in the freezer. And constantly some of those are recruited and they then start the journey of two, three, sometimes even four months until one of them every month reaches ovulation. It is those early stages of follicle maturation, right after recruitment two months or even more removed from ovulation, where the testosterone – the androgens – are very important. And so once we saw that literature in animals we started to understand what DHEA was really doing. It also explained an observation we, by that time, had reached, which was that we indeed did not see any effects of DHEA supplementation until approximately six weeks, and that’s because we’re treating the early stages and then we need to wait until these follicles reach more mature stages and become responsive to the medications we give. 11-12 years later after our patient gave us this idea, we have a very good understanding of how DHEA works, we are much more sophisticated in how we monitor DHEA supplementation, and I think it has made a tremendous contribution to our increasing success in women with low functional ovarian reserve.