Comparison of the lipoprotein, carbohydrate, and hemostatic effects of phasic oral contraceptives containing desogestrel or levonorgestrel

Robert H. Knopp, Frances E. Broyles, Marian Cheung, Katherine Moore, Santica Marcovina, Wayne L. Chandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Desogestrel (DSG) is a less-androgenic progestogen than levonorgestrel (LNG). This difference in androgenicity may be responsible for observed differences in metabolic effects between oral contraceptive (OC) formulations containing almost equivalent estrogen doses but with either DSG or LNG as a progestogen. To test the hypothesis, a prospective 9-month randomized comparison of plasma lipids, glucose, insulin, hemostasis, and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) was conducted in 66 healthy women using phasic formulations of OCs containing either DSG (DSG-OC) or LNG (LNG-OC). The study results showed that SHBG increased 3-fold with DSG-OC and 2-fold with LNG-OC. DSG-OC increased HDL-C, HDL2-C and HDL3-C; LDL-C decreased transiently. LNG-OC decreased HDL2-C and increased HDL3-C; HDL-C was unchanged and LDL-C decreased transiently. Both formulations increased VLDL-C and triglycerides, more with DSG-OC, but apolipoprotein B levels increased equally. Apo A-I and A-II increased more with DSG-OC than with LNG-OC. Neither formulation altered Lp(a) or fasting glucose and insulin levels. Postprandially, both formulations decreased glucose and increased insulin responses, but to an equivalent degree. Both OCs slightly enhanced procoagulant and profibrinolytic parameters to the same extent except for internally compensating decreases in Factor V and protein S with DSG-OC. In summary, at almost equivalent estrogen doses, a phasic OC containing DSG compared with LNG has a less androgenic effect on lipoproteins and SHBG, similar effects on hemostatic parameters with lower protein S and factor V activity and equivalent effects on carbohydrate metabolism. The lipoprotein, SHBG, and protein S and factor V differences are likely due to the lesser androgenicity of DSG allowing for a greater expression of the dose of estrogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Carbohydrates
  • Desogestrel
  • Hemostasis
  • Levornogestrel
  • Lipids
  • Oral contraceptives
  • SHBG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of the lipoprotein, carbohydrate, and hemostatic effects of phasic oral contraceptives containing desogestrel or levonorgestrel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this