Androgens (Including DHEA) and FSH Are Crucial to Female Fertility, Suggests New Publication

Top Quote Fertility experts at CHR have found that androgens like DHEA and testosterone work in conjunction with the female hormone FSH in egg development. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) August 24, 2011 - New York, NY - Androgens (male hormones), contrary to popular belief, play a crucial role in women's fertility. Some androgens and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) may work together to encourage development of eggs in the ovary in the early stages of oocyte (egg) maturation, investigators from a New York fertility center suggested in a recent article.

    In a paper just published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology1, researchers from the Center for Human Reproduction (CHR) reached these conclusions combining results from human and recent mouse research. Some androgens, such as testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), may make essential contributions to the normal maturation of follicles that contain eggs in the ovary.

    Androgen's role in female fertility has been controversial at best. Some researchers have even insisted that androgens are the principal enemy of follicle maturation, especially given observations in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), who often present with excess androgens and tend to struggle with infertility.

    "Recent research data suggests that androgens and FSH, likely at specific, balanced concentrations, work together in promoting follicle development," explains Norbert Gleicher, MD, lead author of the paper, and Medical Director of CHR. "Investigations of such intricacies of ovarian function cannot be done in humans, at least initially, and requires integration of animal data, which is exactly what we did."

    The synergism between androgens and FSH appears most pronounced in the pre-antral and early antral stages of follicle maturation, at least 2-3 months before an egg is ready for ovulation. "This may open new avenues for treatment, especially for women with 'older' ovaries," says David H Barad, MD, another author of the study. "Instead of focusing only on the last two weeks of oocyte maturation, as we currently do with infertility treatments, we may be able to offer treatments that benefit follicle development from much earlier maturation stages."

    Dr. Gleicher notes in the publication that doctors at CHR have preliminary evidence that longer-term exposure to DHEA in combination with FSH may positively affect oocyte development, though more definite conclusions require further studies.

    1Gleicher N, Weghofer A, Barad DH. The role of androgens in follicle maturation and ovulation induction: friend or foe of infertility treatment? Reprod Biol Endocrinol 2011;9(1):116.

    About Center for Human Reproduction
    Center for Human Reproduction ( is a leading IVF center in New York City with world-wide clientele, well recognized for its major clinical research program, which over the years contributed a number of essential breakthroughs to the IVF process. Dr. Gleicher and Dr. Barad are available for further comments.

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