Summary. Intramuscular injections of oestradiol benzoate were given to 8 normally cyclic women in the early follicular phase of 3 different cycles. Progesterone was also injected in the second (low dose) and the third cycle (high dose). Oestradiol induced simultaneous surges of LH and FSH in all women and the onset of these surges was advanced by progesterone. Low-dose progesterone induced a significant increase in the amplitude and the duration of the LH and FSH surges, while high-dose progesterone decreased the duration significantly. In contrast to the oestrogen-only treatment cycles, when the women were treated with progesterone, basal LH and FSH concentrations were suppressed significantly not only before the onset but also after the end of the surge. The results suggest that progesterone affects the dimension of the oestradiol-induced gonadotrophin surge by exerting both a stimulatory and an inhibitory effect on pituitary gonadotrophin secretion. Supraphysiological concentrations of progesterone decreased the duration of the oestradiol-induced gonadotrophin surge significantly and this is possibly part of the mechanism which attenuates the endogenous LH surge in women superovulated for in-vitro fertilization.
Keywords: LH surge; gonadotrophins; progesterone; oestradiol; man