OBJECTIVE - We assessed colposcopically observed vascular changes occurring in the cervix in relation to cyclical hormonal variation in healthy women.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - Thirty women with regular menstrual cycles and willing to remain sexually abstinent during a menstrual cycle were enrolled. Colposcopy was performed during the peak of the estrogen and progesterone levels.
RESULTS - The mean (+/-SD) diameter of the largest visible blood vessel differed significantly between the estrogenic phase (0.38 +/- 0.14 mm) as compared with the progestogenic phase (0.47 +/- 0.12 mm; p <.01). The blood vessels were more prominent and dense and had a well-defined outline during the progestogenic phase than the estrogenic phase; however, these differences were not statistically significant. There was borderline increase in the interleukin 8 level during the estrogenic phase.
CONCLUSIONS - Physiological changes of increased vascularity of the cervix observed colposcopically during the progestogenic phase are normal. If such changes do not correspond to the menstrual cycle phase in women using vaginal microbicides in early-phase clinical trials, presence of inflammatory markers should be evaluated. Elevated interleukin 8 during the estrogenic phase needs further evaluation.