Recent studies indicate that the midcycle gonadotropin surge in the human occurs without an increase in hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) pulse frequency. In addition, previous studies employing a GnRH antagonist to provide a semiquantitative estimate of endogenous GnRH secretion suggest that the overall amount of GnRH secreted is decreased at the time of the surge. To investigate the hypothesis that a normal gonadotropin surge can be generated in the human with a decreased amount of GnRH at the midcycle, 7 GnRH-deficient subjects underwent two cycles of a physiologic regimen of intravenous pulsatile GnRH therapy. In the control cycle, 75 ng/kg/bolus of GnRH, a dose known to be sufficient for folliculogenesis, was administered throughout the cycle, using physiological frequencies. In a second cycle, the bolus dose of GnRH was decreased by one-half log order to 25 ng/kg just prior to the luteinizing hormone surge and returned to 75 ng/kg after documented ovulation. All cycles were ovulatory. The peak luteinizing hormone level (77.4±9.7 vs. 67.5±17.6 IU/l) did not differ between the control and decreased GnRH cycles. There was no difference in the peak serum estradiol level (475.8±144.1 vs. 493.2±93.0 pg/ml), follicular phase length (15.0±1.3 vs. 14.8±0.6 days), or progesterone level (22.4±5.1 vs. 34.8±5.7 ng/ml) on day 6 of the luteal phase in the control and decreased GnRH cycles, respectively. Three pregnancies were achieved in each of the control and reduced GnRH cycles. We conclude that a decreased overall amount of GnRH generates a normal midcycle gonadotropin surge and has no significant impact on luteal phase adequacy or fertility. These results provide further evidence that a decrease in endogenous hypothalamic GnRH secretion may occur at the midcycle in normal women. This study also provides evidence that the GnRH requirements for normal follicular and luteal phase dynamics may well be greater than those required for generation of a normal midcycle gonadotropin surge and ovulation in women.

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