Impact of hormonal contraceptives vis-à-vis non-hormonal factors on the vitamin status of malnourished women in India and Thailand. World Health Organization: Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction. Task Force on Oral Contraceptives

Hum Nutr Clin Nutr. 1986 May;40(3):205-20.


The effects of combined oral contraceptives containing 30 or 50 micrograms ethinyl oestradiol and 150 micrograms levonorgestrel or a 3-monthly injectable preparation depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) on the vitamin status of low-income group women from two urban centres in India (Bombay and Hyderabad) and one rural centre in Thailand (Chiang Mai) were examined in a follow-up study over a period of 1 year. The magnitude of malnutrition in the study population vis-à-vis a middle-income reference group was assessed by comparing the baseline data on the two groups. Effects of time-related variables such as lactation and season were also examined by a cross-sectional analysis of the baseline data on the study population. In all three centres the majority of the study population suffered from biochemical riboflavin and/or pyridoxine deficiency even before initiating contraception. Lactation appeared to have an effect on the vitamin status, which varied among the different populations. Seasonal effects were seen, but showed inconsistent trends in the three centres. Both the oral contraceptive pills and DMPA tended to increase serum vitamin A and blood folate. The thiamin, riboflavin and pyridoxine status of the women who were already deficient did not deteriorate further with the use of hormonal contraception, as judged by enzyme saturation tests. Some deterioration in the riboflavin status of the normal women of Hyderabad was seen with the use of oral pills. Women who were biochemically deficient prior to the use of oral contraceptives tended to show some improvement in B-vitamin status, over the 1-year period of hormonal contraception.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Avitaminosis / blood*
  • Body Weight
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / administration & dosage
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / pharmacology*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined / pharmacology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Ethinyl Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Levonorgestrel
  • Medroxyprogesterone / pharmacology
  • Norgestrel / administration & dosage
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Class
  • Vitamins / blood*


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined
  • Vitamins
  • Norgestrel
  • Ethinyl Estradiol
  • Levonorgestrel
  • Medroxyprogesterone