Salivary progesterone levels at conception and during gestation in rural Bolivian women

V. J. Vitzthum, G. R. Bentley, H. Spielvogel, E. Caceres, K. Heidelberg, K. Crone, R. Chatterton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Previous cross-sectional studies indicate that samples of women from non- industrialized populations have significantly lower levels of salivary progesterone (P) than a comparative sample of U.S. women, but it was unknown if lower P in these populations was associated with reduced fecundity. REPA (Reproduction and Ecology in Provincia Aroma), a longitudinal study of Aymara women in the Bolivian altiplano, evaluated this relationship in 200 lactating and non-lactating menstruating non-contracepting women aged 23-36 years. Conception and pregnancy maintenance were detected via weekly assays of urine for human chorionic gonadotrophin. Radioimmunoassay of steroids is based on concurrent serial samples of saliva collected before and during pregnancy until birth or miscarriage. The same protocol evaluates a comparative sample of 20 non-lactating U.S./U.K. women attempting to conceive. Average P levels in Aymara women are below those generally considered "clinically normal" for U.S./U.K. women. Furthermore, conception and pregnancy maintenance occurred at significantly lower P levels. These data argue that there is marked natural interpopulational variation in P levels, and suggest that P levels in samples of women from industrialized populations represent the high end of this range rather than a normal standard.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 20 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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