Hormonal contraception in obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and diabetes

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010 Sep;1205:240-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05662.x.


The rate of obesity worldwide is currently at epidemic proportions. As part of obesity, the metabolic syndrome describes a clustering of metabolic abnormalities that increase the cardiovascular and diabetes risk. In particular, women from developing countries have diabetes in the reproductive age resulting in more pregnancies where both the mother and the fetus are at high risk. Consequently, use of safe and effective contraceptive methods is of paramount importance. Paradoxically, both obese and diabetic women are less likely to use contraception as compared to women of normal weight. Modern types of hormonal contraceptives are safe and provide important noncontraceptive benefits. The impact of obesity on drug pharmacokinetics may result in lower blood levels of steroid contraceptives that reduce their ability to prevent pregnancy, but the actual change is probably minimal. In women with uncomplicated diabetes, hormonal contraception should therefore be part of the highly needed preconception care and metabolic control.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / adverse effects*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / pharmacokinetics
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / therapy*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Prevalence


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal