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Geneva, Switzerland, WHO, 1981. 76 p. (WHO Technical Report Series No. 657)This report on the effect of female sex hormones on fetal health and development aimed to evaluate research on the specific types of sex hormones and their uses, to determine their safety with respect to fetal development and infant health, and to recommend further research in these areas. Theoretically, sex hormones can affect any stage of fetal development. Sex hormones appear to act by promoting synthesis of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) in target tissues, so that research should focus on the specific proteins formed under the direction of newly synthesized mRNA to elucidate potential morphological and physiological effects of exogenous hormones. Following are some research avenues: cytogenetic research, microscopic and macroscopic examination, observations on births and later life, animal teratology, and epidemiological studies. Epidemiological studies not only help elucidate causal associations but also provide public health data. Studies of sex hormones and fetal development and infant health must be free of bias and often suffer from problems of defining pregnancy outcome. Also sex steroids are frequently administered at the same time as other drugs, leading to confounding effects of drug interactions. In order to assess existing data, it is necessary to disaggregate the data from different reports and then to regroup them according to the indications for use, i.e., infertility, contraception, pregnancy testing, supportive therapy during pregnancy, contraception during pregnancy, contraception during breast feeding. Likewise data must be disaggregated according to different types of exposure, i.e., preconception or postconception. The bulk of this monograph is spent disaggregating study data based on the above-stated rationales. The following recommendations are made for indications for use of sex hormones: 1) they should not be used as pregnancy tests; 2) diethylstilbestrol should not be prescribed to a suspected pregnant woman; 3) benefits of progestin therapies must first be proven before they can be recommended for use in supporting pregnancy; 4) oral contraceptives given before pregnancy seem to have no effect on subsequent pregnancy; and during lactation combined therapy should not be given.
In: Diczfalusy, E., ed. Regulation of human fertility. (Proceedings of the WHO Symposium on Advances in Fertility Regulation, Moscow, USSR, November 16-19, 1976) Copenhagan, Denmark, Scriptor, 1977. p. 21-71This chapter reviews the hormonal changes which occur during the menstrual cycle. During the last days of the preceeding menstrual cycle, plasma levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) increase. Follicular phase is characterized by gradually increasing estrogens. A few days preceding the LH surge, some little understood changes in estradiol, LH, and 17-hydroxyprogesterone, on one hand, and ACTH, cortisol, and aldosterone, on the other, occur. Evidence indicates that the estradiol peak occurs first, followed by a simultaneous rise and fall in LH and 17-hydroxyprogesterone values. The peak period of LH is about 32-44 hours long, during which time a rise in progesterone levels takes place. Other pituitary and steroid hormones (human chorionic gonadotropin, ACTH, prolactin, testosterine, androstenedione, cortisol, and aldosterone) show elevated levels during the periovulatory period. Ovulation occurs 16-48 hours after LH peak. The period following LH surge is characterized by rapidly increasing levels of progesterone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, and 20-alpha-dihydroprogesterone, accompanied by moderately increasing estrogen levels to form the typical luteal-phase hormonal pattern. A luteal increase occurs also in levels of several other hormones, ranging from renin activity to angiotension, or from pregninolone to aldosterone. The last part of the luteal phase is characterized by rapidly declining levels of peripheral hormones. The perimenstrual phase around onset of heavy bleeding is characterized by gradually decreasing levels of progesterone, 20-alpha-hydroprogesterone, estradiol, and testosterone, associated with an incipient rise in LH and FSH levels.