A Single Radioactive Iodine Treatment Has a Deleterious Effect on Ovarian Reserve in Women with Thyroid Cancer: Results of a Prospective Pilot Study

Iris Yaish, Foad Azem, Orit Gutfeld, Zmira Silman, Merav Serebro, Orli Sharon, Gabi Shefer, Rona Limor, Naftali Stern, Karen M. Tordjman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Women of reproductive age with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) often need radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment after surgery. In contrast to the well-documented effect of RAI on testicular function, the potential negative effects of this treatment on ovarian reserve have been largely dismissed. The objective of this pilot study was to examine the possibility that RAI treatment is deleterious to the ovarian reserve by prospectively measuring the concentration of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) after RAI treatment. Methods: Thirty premenopausal women (Mage = 34 years; range 20-45 years) with a new diagnosis of DTC scheduled to undergo RAI ablation were recruited for this study. All of them had TNM stage 1 disease (T1-3, N0, or N1, M0), and were scheduled to receive RAI activities ranging from 30 to 150 mCi. AMH was measured at baseline and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after the administration of RAI. Results: Of the 30 women, only 24 returned after the baseline assessment. RAI treatment resulted in a significant decrease in AMH concentrations at three months, from 3.25 ± 2.75 to 1.9 ± 1.74 ng/mL (p < 0.0001). Only partial recovery was subsequently documented. Eighty-two percent of subjects had final values below baseline levels, such that at one year, serum AMH was still 32% lower than prior to treatment (2.36 ± 1.88 ng/mL; p < 0.005). The only two continuous variables that correlated with the extent of AMH reduction at three months were the woman's age (r = 0.51; p = 0.02) and the age at menarche (r = 0.48; p = 0.03). Importantly, the RAI dose was not associated with the extent of AMH reduction and neither were smoking or the use of birth control pills. Older subjects (≥35 years) were significantly more likely to experience a marked AMH reduction at three months (63.7 ± 18.5% vs. 33.1 ± 29.2%; p = 0.01). The only predictor of recovery after one year was the extent of AMH decrease at three months: the lower the decline, the higher the chances for recovery. Conclusions: RAI in DTC has a rapid and profound effect on ovarian reserve, with only a partial recovery potential. In an era of declining human fertility, it is of relevance to recognize the potentially adverse effect of RAI in women of reproductive age. AMH measurement may be useful as a tool in this decision-making process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-527
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • anti-Müllerian hormone
  • ionizing radiation
  • ovarian reserve
  • radioactive iodine
  • thyroid cancer


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