Endometrial pattern in DES-exposed women undergoing IVF

These 1996 study data suggested that endometrial pattern is one of the most significant variables for pregnancy outcome in DES-exposed women undergoing in-vitro fertilization.


Endometrial pattern in diethylstilboestrol-exposed women undergoing in-vitro fertilization may be the most significant predictor of pregnancy outcome, Human reproduction (Oxford, England), NCBI PubMed PMID: 9021378, 1996 Dec. Full text: Human reproduction (1996) 11 (12): 2719-2723., oxfordjournals, 1996.

The objective of this study was to compare prospectively pregnancy outcome as it is related to ultrasonic endometrial echo pattern in women exposed to diethylstilboestrol (DES) in utero by their mother’s consumption with women not exposed to DES, all of whom were undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Pregnancy outcome relative to endometrial thickness and pattern was evaluated in 540 cycles of IVF including DES (n = 50) and non-DES-exposed (n = 490) women. Endometrial patterns were designated as p1 = solid; p2 = ring; and p3 = intermediate.

  • DES patients exhibited p1 more often than the majority of the non-DES-exposed group.
  • There was no significant difference in endometrial thickness among the cycles where p1 was noted when comparing the DES (10.3 mm) with the non-DES-exposed (10.7 mm) groups.
  • Notably, within the group exhibiting p1, no pregnancies occurred in the 18 cycles of DES-exposed women compared with a 39.2% clinical pregnancy and 36.5% delivery rate in the non-DES-exposed controls (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.008 respectively).
  • Pregnancy rates were not significantly different in the cycles where the other endometrial patterns were found when comparing the two groups.

The impact of uterine shape on pregnancy outcome was also investigated.

  • A T-shaped uterine configuration was noted in 11 out of 18 (61.1%) cycles of DES-exposed women with pattern p1 compared with nine out of 23 (39.1%) with pattern p2.
  • Of cycles where a T-shaped uterus was demonstrated, none out of 11 (0%) with pattern p1 compared with four out of nine (44.4%) with pattern p2 resulted in pregnancy (P = 0.026).

These data suggest that endometrial pattern is one of the most significant variables for pregnancy outcome in DES-exposed women undergoing IVF.

It is our recommendation, based on the above results, that patients with a history of in-utero DES exposure who repeatedly demonstrate a solid endometrial pattern consider a gestational carrier as a possible means of achieving a biological offspring. Further investigation of both natural and hormone-replaced cycles in DES-exposed patients would address the potential for improvement of endometrial receptivity in these women. If improvement is possible, one could consider foregoing embryo replacement during the stimulated cycle with cryopreservation of the embryos for transfer at a later date. Perhaps midcycle endometnal sampling of DES-exposed women undergoing assisted reproductive technologies would help to define the endometrial variation.

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