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JMIR Res Protoc. 2018 Apr 25;7(4):e113. doi: 10.2196/resprot.9024.

Comparing the Effects of Combined Oral Contraceptives Containing Progestins With Low Androgenic and Antiandrogenic Activities on the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis in Patients With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

Author information

1
Students Research Committee, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Department of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Islamic Republic Of Iran.
2
Reproductive Endocrinology Research Center, Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Islamic Republic Of Iran.
3
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Department of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Islamic Republic Of Iran.
4
Minimally Invasive Surgery Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Islamic Republic Of Iran.
5
Endocrine Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Islamic Republic Of Iran.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Different products of combined oral contraceptives (COCs) can improve clinical and biochemical findings in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) through suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis.

OBJECTIVE:

This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to compare the effects of COCs containing progestins with low androgenic and antiandrogenic activities on the HPG axis in patients with PCOS.

METHODS:

We searched PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, ScienceDirect, and Web of Science databases (1980-2017) to identify randomized controlled trials or nonrandomized studies investigating the effect of COCs containing progestins with low androgenic and antiandrogenic activities, including the products containing desogestrel, cyproterone acetate, and drospirenone, on the HPG axis in patients with PCOS. In this meta-analysis, fixed and random effect models were used. Outcomes of interest were weighted mean differences (WMD) of hormonal parameters, including the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), LH-to-FSH ratio, estradiol, total testosterone, and sex hormone-binding globulin. Potential sources of heterogeneity were investigated using meta-regression and subgroup analyses. Subgroup analyses were performed based on the used progestin compound and treatment duration. We assessed quality of included studies and their risk of bias using Cochrane guidelines. Publication bias was assessed using Egger test and funnel plot.

RESULTS:

COC use was significantly associated with a decrease in gonadotropin levels, including FSH and LH. Use of products containing cyproterone acetate was associated with a decrease in FSH levels after 3 months (WMD=-0.48; 95% CI -0.81 to -0.15), 6 months (WMD=-2.33; 95% CI -3.48 to -1.18), and 12 months (WMD=-4.70; 95% CI -4.98 to -4.42) and a decrease in LH levels after 3 months (WMD=-3.57; 95% CI -5.14 to -1.99), 6 months (WMD=-5.68; 95% CI -9.57 to -1.80), and 12 months (WMD=-11.60; 95% CI -17.60 to -5.60). Use of COCs containing drospirenone for 6 months decreased FSH (WMD=-0.93; 95% CI -1.79 to -0.08) and LH (WMD=-4.59; 95% CI -7.53 to -1.66) levels. Data for products containing desogestrel were few, but this compound generally had no statistically significant influence on gonadotropin levels similar to that observed with COCs containing cyproterone acetate and drospirenone. Use of COCs was not associated with any significant change in LH-to-FSH ratio. COCs containing cyproterone acetate showed maximum effect on gonadotropin suppression. COCs containing cyproterone acetate significantly decreased estradiol concentrations, whereas those containing drospirenone exhibited no such effect. All COCs demonstrated improvement in androgenic profile and had the same effects on total testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin concentrations. Progestin compound and treatment duration had no statistically significant effects on changing total testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin levels.

CONCLUSIONS:

COCs containing cyproterone acetate can effectively suppress gonadotropins, leading to a decrease in androgenic parameters. Although different products of COCs could significantly suppress the androgenic profile, it seems that products containing cyproterone acetate are more effective in suppressing gonadotropin and estradiol levels in patients with PCOS.

KEYWORDS:

androgens; combined oral contraceptives; gonadotropins; meta-analysis; polycystic ovary syndrome

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