Mechanisms that explain the contraceptive action of progestin implants for women

Contraception. 2002 Jan;65(1):21-7. doi: 10.1016/s0010-7824(01)00294-3.


Four different contraceptive implants for women, in the form of capsules or covered rods, that release either one of the synthetic progestins levonorgestrel, etonogestrel, Nestorone, or Elcometrine and nomegestrol acetate were considered. These progestins act by binding to their receptors located in diverse target cells, which are distributed along the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal-genital tract axis. These implants differ in the extent to which each one interferes with various steps of the reproductive process and in the intensity with which each one affects the same process along its effective life, but they have in common the ability to interfere with several key processes required for gamete encounter and fertilization. The steps they interfere with most are the ovulatory process, through partial or complete inhibition of the gonadotropin surge, and by changing the quality of cervical mucus; they restrict or suppress the access of fertile spermatozoa to the site of fertilization. Changes in endometrial development also occur, but this contribution to the contraceptive action is difficult to determine at the present time.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervix Mucus / drug effects*
  • Contraceptive Devices, Female
  • Drug Implants
  • Endometrium / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ovary / drug effects*
  • Ovary / physiology*
  • Progesterone Congeners / blood
  • Progesterone Congeners / pharmacology*


  • Drug Implants
  • Progesterone Congeners