The effect of intrauterine and oral levonorgestrel administration on serum concentrations of sex hormone-binding globulin, insulin and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1

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The concentrations of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) have been shown to decrease during the use of levonorgestrel (LNG)-containing contraception. This decrease has been thought to be due to the androgenic action of LNG. In endogenously hyperandrogenic women, particularly in those with increased body weight, serum SHBG correlates with circulating insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) concentration, and both are inversely related to insulin. LNG-containing combined contraceptives have also been reported to increase the pancreatic insulin secretion.


To examine whether serum insulin and IGFBP-1 levels are related to SHBG during the use of intrauterine or oral levonorgestrel contraception.


Thirty-one fertile women were divided into three study groups: A copper-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) was inserted in control group (n=10), and the LNG-releasing intrauterine contraceptive system (LNG-IUS) in group II (n=10), and 30 µg LNG-containing contraceptive minipills were given in group III (n=11). Twenty-nine women completed the study and one woman was excluded because of a high body mass index. Fasting concentrations of blood glucose, insulin, SHBG, IGFBP-1, testosterone and LNG before and after three-months-use of contraception were measured.


SHBG concentrations decreased slightly during oral LNG contraception, but not during the use of the LNG-IUS. No change was found in blood glucose, serum insulin, serum IGFBP-1 and serum total testosterone concentrations in either group. In our study group, including women with normal body weight, no correlation was detected between insulin and SHBG concentrations before or after LNG contraception, whereas an inverse correlation was found between insulin and IGFBP-1 levels at the baseline as well as after LNG-IUS use (R2=0.578; p=0.001). Multiple regression analysis showed no significant association between the levels of SHBG and IGFBP-1 as dependent factors, and glucose, insulin, LNG, age, waist-hip ratio and body mass index as dependent factors.


Our data imply that the effect of levonorgestrel on variables associated with endogenous hyperandrogenism remains borderline in women with normal body mass index.

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