Levonorgestrel effects on serum androgens, sex hormone-binding globulin levels, hair shaft diameter, and sexual function

Fertil Steril. 2010 Apr;93(6):1997-2003. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.12.095. Epub 2009 Apr 25.


Objective: To determine the effects of levonorgestrel (LNG) on serum androgens, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), hair shaft diameter, and sexual function in women.

Design: Substudy of a prospective randomized double-blind study in women using an LNG SC implant (LNG-SI), who were treated with doxycycline or placebo.

Setting: Medical school department of obstetrics and gynecology.

Patient(s): Forty women were enrolled; 36 completed the study.

Intervention(s): Participants were randomized to doxycycline 20 mg or an identical placebo orally twice a day after LNG-SI insertion.

Main outcome measure(s): Serum levels of total T (TT), free T (FT), androstenedione (A), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), dihydrotestosterone (DHT), androstanediol glucuronide (AG), SHBG, and LNG; hair shaft diameter; and sexual function using the Brief Index of Sexual Function for Women and the Arizona Sexual Experiences Scale were assessed.

Result(s): Serum TT, A, DHT, DHEAS, and SHBG declined after LNG-SI insertion. No changes were found in FT, AG, hair shaft diameter, or sexual function. Serum LNG correlated with SHBG levels. There were no differences between the placebo and doxycycline groups.

Conclusion(s): LNG reduced serum TT, A, DHT, DHEAS, and SHBG but had no effect on sexual function or markers of androgen bioactivity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Androgens / blood*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Synthetic / administration & dosage
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Synthetic / pharmacology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Doxycycline / administration & dosage
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Implants
  • Female
  • Hair / cytology*
  • Hair / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Levonorgestrel / administration & dosage
  • Levonorgestrel / pharmacology*
  • Placebos
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis*
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Androgens
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Synthetic
  • Drug Implants
  • Placebos
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Levonorgestrel
  • Doxycycline