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Contraception. 1995 Mar;51(3):149-53.

Metabolic parameter, bleeding, and weight changes in U.S. women using progestin only contraceptives.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84132, USA.


Our objective was to determine the effect of progestin-only contraceptives on metabolic parameters, bleeding patterns, and weight changes during the first year of use. Seventy-one women (> 95% Caucasian), who were advised regarding contraception alternatives, self-selected levonorgestrel implants (n = 44), depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate (n = 22), or oral norethindrone (n = 5). One year later, 11 levonorgestrel implant and five depomedroxyprogesterone acetate patients were randomly selected to compare (pre- and post-progestin use) levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, low density lipoprotein (LDL), high density lipoprotein (HDL), very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), apolipoproteins A-1 and B-100, bilirubin, and sex hormone binding globulin. Monthly bleeding and spotting records were kept in each group. Body weights were also monitored in each group. No statistically significant differences in metabolic parameters were found between pre- and post-progestin use in the levonorgestrel implant and depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate groups. Continued bleeding patterns were more prominent in the levonorgestrel implant and oral norethindrone groups than in patients receiving depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate. No significant weight gain was detected in any group. No changes in metabolic parameters or weight were noted over the one year of use of levonorgestrel implants or depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate. Depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate had the highest incidence of amenorrhea.


During March 1991-April 1992, health workers recruited 71 women aged 16-43 (98% Caucasian) attending the University of Utah Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic for a clinical study examining metabolic parameters, menstruation disorders, and changes in weight after 12 months of use of a progestin-only contraceptive. The progestin-only contraceptives (number of women using each) included Norplant contraceptive implants (44), Depo-Provera (22), and a mini-pill (norethindrone) (5). Metabolic parameters were total cholesterol, triglycerides, high density lipoprotein (HDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL), very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), sex hormone binding globulin, apolipoprotein A-1, apolipoprotein B-100, and total and direct bilirubin. The only groups investigated for metabolic parameters were Norplant users and Depo-Provera users. Metabolic parameters did not change significantly after progestin use. No group experienced significant weight gain. However, one woman gained more than 60 pounds in the Norplant group and one woman gained more than 40 pounds in the Depo-Provera group. Depo-Provera users had significantly fewer total days of blood loss than Norplant users during months 5-12 (p 0.02) and mini-pill users during months 6-10 (p 0.04). Mini-pill users and Norplant users had similar bleeding patterns, except during months 11-12, when Norplant users had more bleeding than mini-pill users (e.g., month 12, 9 vs. 0 days). The total days of blood loss was 8.7 for Norplant users, 3.5 for Depo-Provera users, and 10.2 for mini-pill users. Less than 10% of Norplant users and mini-pill users experienced amenorrhea, while amenorrhea increased after 120 days in Depo-Provera users (p 0.001). After 1 year, the Norplant and mini-pill groups had more excessive prolonged (10 days) bleeding than the Depo-Provera group (29% and 50%, respectively, vs. 11%).

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