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Vulvar shrinkage as indicator for standing heat
Several methods are currently available to find the optimal time for artificial insemination - most popular is the progesteron blood level combined with vaginal cytology. This study from Japan, performed on 12 Beagles, adds another very simple technique with surprising results: the measurement of the horizontal dimensions of the vulva.

During the proestrous and estrous periods, the following parameters were measured daily: the horizontal dimensions of the vulva, vaginal cytology, and serum luteinizing hormone (LH) and progesterone concentrations.

Measurements of serum LH concentrations allowed for the identification of the LH surge and the optimal time for artificial insemination (AI).
Nine out of the 12 beagles became pregnant through AI and completed a gestation.

Shrinkage in the horizontal dimensions of the vulva (i.e., vulvar shrinkage) was primarily observed prior and subsequent to the LH surge.

In six of the nine (66.7%) beagles that became pregnant, vulvar shrinkage was observed on the days in which the LH surge was confirmed, and the rate of vulvar shrinkage tended to be greater at higher serum LH concentrations.
Further vulvar shrinkage was identified in all nine beagles within two days of the LH surge. An increase in the serum progesterone concentration was observed after the LH surge in each of the beagles that became pregnant, together with clinical signs of estrous behavior (i.e., standing heat) as well as a change in vulva condition from swollen to soft.

This demonstrates that vulvar shrinkage is induced in response to the onset of the LH surge and that the LH surge can be predicted through the measurement of the horizontal dimensions of the vulva, vaginal cytology, and the assessment of serum progesterone concentrations in beagles.

Source: Nishiyama T, Narita K, Tsumagari S, Takeishi M (2000): Shrinkage in the horizontal dimensions of the vulva (vulvar shrinkage) as an indicator of standing heat in the beagle. In:
J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2000 Nov-Dec;36(6):556-60


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SMALL ANIMAL PRACTICE

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