No impact on sexual function with combined contraceptives
Combined ethynylestradiol (EE) and levonorgestrel (LNG) contraceptives reduce women’s plasma androgen levels, but do not impair their sexual desire and may even increase it at low doses, the results of a Brazilian study indicate.
Luciano Pompei and colleagues from the ABC School of Medicine in Santo André randomly assigned 97 women without previous sexual dysfunction to receive EE 30 mcg plus LNG 150 mcg (EE30/LNG150), or EE 20 mcg plus LNG 100 mcg (EE20/LNG100) for six cycles. They completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), and hormone assays were performed at baseline and after the sixth cycle.
Total testosterone levels and free androgen index decreased significantly by 54 percent and 67 percent, respectively, by cycle six versus baseline in women in the EE30/LNG150 group. Levels also fell by a corresponding 20 percent and 42 percent in women in the E20/LNG100 group, but the change was not significant.
Total FSFI scores did not improve in either group after six cycles, but there was a significant improvement in “desire” domains on the FSFI in the EE20LNG100 group, at 4.2 versus 3.6 at cycle six versus baseline.
“The present study confirmed that the contraceptive pills caused reductions in plasma androgen levels that were statistically significant only for the formulation with 30 mcg of EE,” the team says.
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By Liam Davenport