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August 2009 Issue

The fertility patch (above) will deliver a natural hormone into the body that stimulates the pituitary gland, which in turn triggers ovulation.
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Fertility Patch Offers Hope for Non-Ovulating Women

By Angela Koenig
Published August 2009

Research has begun at UC to study whether a fertility patch might help some women conceive. 

"We hope the end result will prove to help a large population get pregnant,” says UC physician Michael Thomas, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and division director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at UC’s Center for Reproductive Health.  

Called Lutrepatch, the transdermal patch delivers a natural hormone (GnRH) into the body every 90 minutes. GnRH stimulates the pituitary gland, which in turn tells the ovaries to produce hormones that trigger ovulation.  

"Basically, the goal is to get ovulation started,” says Thomas.

Study coordinator Patricia Johnson says the trial is geared toward a specific type of infertility patient: aged 18-38, with irregular periods due to low hormone function (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, an
endocrine disorder) who have been trying to get pregnant for at least a year with no other medical issues.

"These are women who are not ovulating all the time,” says Johnson.

The study also requires that participants have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 35. This requirement is so the hormone dosage can be distributed evenly across a smaller area, says Thomas

The study will include 20 women who will either be given the GnRH hormone or a placebo via the patch. The patch is changed twice a day and worn for 21 days.   

Thomas says he sees this approach to fertility treatment as "a new and innovative” way to replace treatments such as intravenous delivery of GnRH, which is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The patch is a collaboration between Ferring Pharmaceuticals (reproductive medicine) and Vyteris (patch technology), and the study is being conducted at 35 sites nationwide.

According to the National Fertility Association’s latest statistics, infertility affects 12 percent of women of child-bearing age in the United States, or one in eight couples.

Neither Thomas nor Johnson has interests in either company.  Participants in the study are compensated for their medical screening and time.

For more information call the UC Center for Reproductive Health at (513) 584-4100 or visit 

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