We investigated the menstrual cycle of wild fulvous fruit bats (Rousettus leschenaulti), focusing on changes in the endometrial and ovarian structure and pituitary and steroid hormones. The menstrual cycle lasts for 33 days in bats studied in their natural habitat and in captivity. Vaginal bleeding was restricted to a single day (Day 1). A preovulatory follicle was found in the ovary on Day 18 when the levels of LH and FSH reached their maxima, accompanied by a thickened endometrium. On Day 24, serum levels of progesterone and estradiol-17 were also maximal, and uterine glands increased in size. After that, the levels of progesterone dropped precipitously, leading to menstrual bleeding. Both the morphologic and hormonal changes observed in fulvous fruit bats during the menstrual cycle resemble similar changes in humans. Fulvous fruit bats may be useful nonprimate laboratory models to study menstruation and menstrual dysfunction.
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Vol. 77 • No. 2