The effect of continuous subdermal levonorgestrel (Norplant) on carbohydrate metabolism

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Jan;166(1 Pt 1):15-9. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(92)91819-v.


Blood glucose and plasma insulin levels during an oral glucose tolerance test were measured in 20 women using continuous subdermal levonorgestrel (Norplant) for contraception over a 12-month period. Changes in carbohydrate metabolism occurred as early as 1 month but were most marked after 6 months. After 1 month the area under the glucose and insulin curves increased by 12.3% and 37.7%, respectively. This increase was more marked by 6 months, but by 12 months it was significantly less marked. Although changes in the blood glucose and plasma insulin levels at different times during the oral glucose tolerance test occurred, they were all within normal limits for normal women. The peak blood glucose and insulin levels after insertion of the implant occurred 60 minutes after the glucose load, as opposed to 30 minutes before insertion. Apart from this, there was a significant delay in the return of these levels to fasting values. We conclude that this product, like any other progesterone-containing contraceptive, alters carbohydrate metabolism, but these alterations are not clinically significant in normal women. It is, however, possible that in potential cases of diabetes it may predispose to frank diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Implants
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Kinetics
  • Levonorgestrel / administration & dosage
  • Levonorgestrel / pharmacology*
  • Male


  • Blood Glucose
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Implants
  • Insulin
  • Levonorgestrel