Obese women are often warned by their doctors to avoid contraceptives containing estrogen, such as the pill, patch and vaginal ring because of a higher risk for pregnancy-related complications.
This problem inspired researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) to conduct a first-of-its-kind study on the effects of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) containing the hormone progestin for this group of special women.
“Contraceptive studies often only look at normal-weight women,” said Penina Segall-Gutierrez, co-investigator of the study and an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and family medicine at the Keck School. “Studies such as this are necessary because, today, one-third of women in the U.S. are overweight and one-third are obese.”
The results indicate otherwise healthy but obese women of reproductive age have a slightly higher increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who use non-hormonal birth control.
However, the final conclusion was that progestin-releasing LARC contraceptives appear to be safe for use by obese women, but further investigation is definitely warranted to see if the metabolic effects that were observed persist or are only temporary.
Professor Segall-Gutierrez said: “Overall, we’re finding that methods such as the progestin injection and the progestin skin implant, which both have higher circulating progestin, may have an increased risk for metabolic changes compared to methods like the IUD, which only has a local effect — in the uterus.”