2006 Volume 52 Issue 5 Pages 617-624
Adequate uterine contractility and periovulatory peristalsis, interpreted as "rapid sperm transport" to the side bearing the dominant follicle, may be a precondition for successful reproduction in humans. Estrogen and progesterone fluctuate characteristically during the menstrual cycle, and their source is the dominant follicle and corpus luteum. The question is, how is the direction to the left or right side of transport mechanisms influenced? An extracorporeal perfusion model of the swine uterus was used that maintained the uterus in a functional condition and that was suitable for the study of physiological questions. The effects of side-dependent estrogen, progesterone, and estrogen plus progesterone perfusion on oxytocin-induced uterine peristalsis were assessed using two intrauterine microcatheters placed in each horn of the swine uterus. Estrogen perfusion was associated with an increase in intrauterine pressure (IUP) in a dose-dependent manner only in the estrogen-perfused horn of the swine uterus. There was a significant difference between the IUP increase measured in the estrogen-perfused horn and that in the non estrogen-perfused horn of the swine uterus. Progesterone perfusion showed no effect in general. Furthermore, progesterone antagonized the estrogen effects. This study demonstrates that side-dependent estrogen perfusion resulted in side-dependent contractility in the swine uterus perfusion system used. These observations show that estrogen stimulates uterine contractility in the estrogen-perfused uterine horn and that estrogens may be the "trigger" for the transport mechanisms to the side bearing the dominant follicle during the periovulatory phase through their locally increased concentration and distribution via the utero-ovarian counter-current system in humans.