Postpartum return of ovarian activity in nonbreastfeeding women monitored by urinary assays

Ronald H. Gray, Oona M. Campbell, Howard A. Zacur, Miriam H. Labbok, Susan L. Macrae

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84 Scopus citations


Assays of first morning urine samples for pregnanediol - 3α - glucuronide (PdG), estradiol -17β - glucuronide (E2G), and LH were used to monitor endocrine function in 16 regularly cycling women and 22 postpartum nonbreastfeeding women. Twice weekly blood samples were also obtained from the postpartum group. Ovulation was inferred by a significant rise in LH and PdG, and reversal of the E2G to PdG ratio. Luteal phase PdG excretion was measured by the peak of smoothed PdG levels and the area under the smoothed luteal phase PdG curve. The lower limits of normal established in 16 cycling women were a peak luteal phase PdG of 4 μg/ml and an area under the PdG curve of 20 μg/ml. In the postpartum women, 32% of first cycles were anovulatory, and among ovulatory cycles, 73% had abnormally low luteal phase PdG excretion or short luteal phases. In second and subsequent cycles, 15% were anovulatory and 26% had luteal phase abnormalities. There was a progressive increase in luteal PdG excretion from the first to third cycles. The mean delay before first ovulation was 45.2 days, and no woman ovulated before 25 days after delivery. The correlations between blood and urinary hormone levels were 0.78 for PdG, 0.65 for E2G, and 0.55 for LH. We conclude that assays of daily early morning urine samples provide reliable information on ovulation and luteal phase adequacy, and that there is gradual recovery of pituitary ovarian function after parturition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-650
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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