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Contraception. 1985 Jul;32(1):53-74.

Fertility regulation in nursing women: VII. Influence of NORPLANT levonorgestrel implants upon lactation and infant growth.


The objective of this study was to test the influence of NORPLANT implants upon lactation and infant growth. The results obtained during the first postpartum year are reported. One-hundred women were enrolled in the implant group. The control group was formed by 100 women who received a Copper T IUD. Treatments were administered at day 55 +/- 3. At admission all subjects were in exclusive breastfeeding with an adequate weight increase of the infant. No significant differences were found between the treated and control groups in the percentage of women in full nursing at different postpartum intervals, except for the 12th month postpartum where a lower percentage of cases from the NORPLANT group was in the full nursing category. No difference was found in the time of weaning. The infants showed a normal weight gain rate in both groups although the girls from the NORPLANT group showed a significantly lower daily weight increase during the 4th month than the girls from the IUD group. No pregnancies were diagnosed. No women asked for implant removal during the first year. No serious side effects related to treatment were detected. Bleeding irregularities were rare during breastfeeding which is in contrast with what occurs in non-nursing women treated with NORPLANT implants. Levonorgestrel concentrations found in milk were variable and individual values ranged from 23 to 311 pg/ml. The dose received by the infant can be estimated around 15 to 18 ng/Kg/day during the first month of treatment when the higher plasma values of levonorgestrel are observed. These levels is conjunction with the clinical observations reported here minimize the potential problems associated with levonorgestrel transference through maternal milk. Nevertheless, long-term studies are required to settle this matter and until more information is available, NORPLANT implant use in lactating women should be limited to cases who require a highly effective contraceptive method and where non-hormonal methods of similar effectiveness are contraindicated or unacceptable.

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