A prospective study of adolescents who choose among levonorgestrel implant (Norplant), medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera), or the combined oral contraceptive pill as contraception.Pediatrics. 1994 Nov; 94(5):687-94.Ped
Levonorgestrel implants (Norplant) and medroxyprogesterone acetate injections (Depo-Provera) represent additional contraception options for adolescents. The purpose of this study was to examine prospectively clinical profiles among adolescents who chose one of the two long-term contraceptives compared with profiles among those who chose the combined oral contraceptive pill (OCP).
Girls who needed contraception and did not require confidentiality were presented with a contraceptive menu consisting of Norplant (n = 58), Depo-Provera (n = 66), or OCP (n = 75). At baseline and follow-up visits over 6 months, patients were interviewed regarding gynecologic history, side effect symptoms, and satisfaction. The average age of subjects was 15.5 years (range 11 to 20 years); 66% were African-American and 34% white.
Significantly more teens who chose Depo-Provera (73%) reported having used some method of birth control previously than those selecting either Norplant (30%) or OCP (26%). Adolescents who chose either Norplant (34%) or Depo-Provera (43%) were significantly more likely to have been pregnant previously than those choosing OCP (12%). Those selecting Depo-Provera were significantly more likely to report a history of genital infection with Chlamydia trachomatis (42%) than those in the other two contraceptive groups (22%). Prevalences of reported recent depression and fatigue before initiation of treatment were high, exceeding 35% across the three groups. A total of 105 and 40 adolescents were assessed at 3 and 6 months, respectively. At follow-up, more than 80% of OCP users maintained regular menstrual cycles, whereas over 80% of those choosing Norplant or Depo-Provera had disrupted cycles. Complaints of nausea and dizziness among Norplant users and fatigue among Depo-Provera and OCP users increased significantly between the baseline and follow-up visits. Reports of local reactions to the Norplant device were common but not clinically significant. Blood pressure readings, facial acne, and body mass index did not change over time in any treatment group. Subjects in the Norplant and Depo-Provera groups appreciated freedom from daily compliance to maintain contraceptive effectiveness and the "hidden" nature of the method. Appointment compliance at the end of 6 months was 78% for Depo-Provera, 40% for Norplant, and 46% for OCP.
The implant and injection forms of contraception appear to be especially popular among girls with previous pregnancies or birth control use. The common occurrences of medical symptoms and sexually transmitted diseases before initiation of therapy underscore the importance of baseline evaluation. Norplant users may be warned about nausea and dizziness as well as minor local symptoms around the insertion site and unpredictable uterine bleeding patterns. Adolescent patients choosing Depo-Provera may expect amenorrhea by the end of 6 months of therapy along with possible fatigue. Early intervention may be needed with adolescents who choose Norplant or OCP to encourage better compliance with follow-up appointments.