Subdermal progestin implant contraception.Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 1991 Aug; 3(4):470-6.CO
Sustained-release progestin contraceptives are a new approach to meeting a worldwide need for more effective and acceptable birth control. These contraceptive systems provide low, stable levels of synthetic progestins for periods of months to several years. Unlike earlier injectable and oral contraceptives, they do not cause peaks in progestin levels beyond those required for effective contraception, nor do they employ estrogens. For these reasons, sustained-release progestin systems are without some of the health risks attributed to birth control pills, and they are more effective, as well as easy to use, and completely reversible. They share common side effects, the most frequent of which is irregular menstrual bleeding caused by the erratic shedding of hypotrophic endometrium. Despite this and other minor side effects, most users find the sustained-release systems acceptable alternatives to other methods of contraception. Permanent or biodegradable subdermal implants, injections, intrauterine and intracervical devices, and vaginal rings are all employed as delivery systems for contraceptive progestins. The Norplant (Wyeth Ayerst, Radnor, PA) system, consisting of six silastic tubes filled with levonorgestrel and implanted under the skin, was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and is already used by more than a half million women worldwide. The other sustained-release systems are in various stages of development, at least several years away from general use. When these new methods complete clinical trials, women will be able to choose from among implants, injections, or pellets with various durations of action, all providing convenient, highly effective contraception with low risk to health.