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Ovarian function during use of Nestorone® subdermal implants1

      Abstract

      Nestorone® progestin (NES) is a potent 19-nor-progesterone derivative which is biologically inactive when administered orally; however, it is an excellent option for implant contraception. The objective of this study was to evaluate ovarian function during use of either one 4-cm or two 3-cm NES implants for 24 months. A total of 60 volunteers were enrolled in each dose group. Vaginal ultrasound (VUS) and blood sampling for determinations of estradiol (E2), progesterone (P) and NES serum levels were carried out twice a week for 6 consecutive weeks, beginning in months 1, 6, 12, 18, and 24 of implant use. Serum levels of NES declined with time, with a more pronounced decrease during the first 18 months of implant use; thereafter, NES levels remained stable until the end of the study at 24 months. Luteal activity was very infrequent during the first year of use (<3%) but increased during the second year, occurring in 27% and 35% of the sampling periods in the 1-implant group, and 2% and 16% of the sampling periods in the 2-implant group, at months 18 and 24 of use, respectively. No luteal activity was observed with NES levels above 80 pmol/L. Serum P levels in periods of luteal activity were significantly lower than those of controls. Persistent anovulatory follicles were the most common VUS finding and this was associated with E2 levels that remained within the normal range (101–1500 pmol/L) in the majority of the sampling periods studied. Considering that a single implant offers advantage for insertion and removal, a new single NES implant is being developed with a slightly higher release rate, to reduce effectively the incidence of ovulation and provide a greater margin of safety beyond 2 years.

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