The effect of triphasic oral contraceptives on plasma lipids and lipoproteins

Wolfgang Patsch, Spencer A. Brown, Antonio Gotto, Ronald L. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


To determine the effect of triphasic oral contraceptives on plasma lipid transport, 150 nonsmoking women with normolipidemia, ages 18 to 35 years, were randomly assigned to receive one of three contraceptive formulations: (1) ethinyl estradiol, 30, 40, and 30 μg/day, each for 6, 5, and 10 days per menstrual cycle, and levonorgestrel, 50, 75, and 125 μg/day, each for 6, 5, and 10 days; (2) ethinyl estradiol, 35 μg/day for 21 days, and phased norethindrone, 500, 750, and 1000 μg/day each for 7 consecutive days; and (3) ethinyl estradiol, 35 μg/day for 21 consecutive days, and norethindrone, 500, 1000, and 500 μg/day for 7, 9, and 5 days, respectively. A control group consisting of 49 women taking a nonhormonal form of contraception was also included. After 6 months of oral contraceptive treatment, significant increases in plasma triglyceride (28% to 52%) and plasma apolipoprotein B levels (20% to 23%) were observed in each treatment group. The changes in total plasma cholesterol (3% to 10%) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol values (0% to 11%) were less striking. Changes in total high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were statistically insignificant (-2% to -4%); however, high-density lipoprotein2 cholesterol levels decreased by 29% to 33% and high-density lipoprotein3 cholesterol levels increased by 20% to 23%. Concomitantly, plasma apolipoprotein A-I values increased by 5% to 12%. No consistent significant differences among analyses, were observed between any of the groups receiving different oral contraceptives for 6 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1396-1401
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989


  • cholesterol
  • comparative trial
  • lipids
  • Oral contraceptives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Medicine(all)


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