Norplant's Physical Side Effects and Implications

Author: Steven A. Ertelt


1. Increase in the number of days of bleeding and spotting with shorter menstrual cycle intervals. [1,2]

2. Changes in the lipid (oil-based) metabolism. This is serious as the lipid metabolism is reponsible for controlling and breaking down cholesterol, tryglycerides, and lipoproteins. This affects blood pressure, risk of heart attack, and blood coagulation. [1]

3. In approximately ten percent of women, large functional ovarian cysts have occurred, some of which required surgery to remove. [1]

4. Less common side effects include headaches; changes in liver function, carbohydrate metabolism, and immunoglobins; and increased body weight and serum cholesterol. [1]

5. A few users also report mood changes, frequent chest pains, acne, numbness in the implanted arm, increased body heair growth, uterine cramping, and excessive PMS symptoms. [2]

6. For Norplant users who are diabetic, "there is likely to be a need for increased insulin requirements, and those with impaired carbohydrate metaboism may become overtly diabetic," indicates the _American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology_. It also indicated that more studies should be carried out on diabetic women and others. [3]

According to Dr. Philip Darney, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of San Francisco Medical School, since no testing has been done on teenagers, there are no accurate findings of possible implications for their age group. [4]

The reactions to side effects for those who have used Norplant in the United States were summarized in an article published by Family Planning Perspectives (a pro-abortion source). The average age of the women studied was 28 and they responded as follows:[5]

1. "Nearly all users reported at least one side effect and four out of five reported menstrual changes."

2. "Ninety-five percent of the women surveyed said they experienced at least one side effect while using the implant, while 61 percent had experienced two or more."

3. "Forty-four percent of the women who had experienced any side effects said they had considered having the implant removed because of them."

4. "Only 16 percent of the women who had discontinued because of the side effects said they would use implants again."

Finally, an alarming comment by a pediatrician brings another aspect of potential side effects:

"Comments by Dr. Iris Litt, in the _Journal of the American Medical Association_ [Vol. 265, #23, 6/19/91, p. 3100] address a much more fundamental issue - that of the effect of dissociating pregnancy prevention measures from prevention of STD's. even assuming perfect pregnancy prevention (which is never true for any medical intervention), removal of fear of pregnancy in my opinion would cause a skyrocketing of sexual promiscuity, and attendant STD's, including of course, AIDS.... I'm afraid Norplant represents a "time bomb" for a dramatic escalation of STS's and AIDS." (6)

-- Sources:

1. Weckenbrock, Paul R. Ph.D, "Norplant: What Is It? How Does it Work? _CCL FAMILY Foundations_, vol. XVII, #4, 1-2-91, p.1

2. Darney, et al., "Acceptance and Perceptions of Morplant Among Users in San Franciso, USA," _Studies in Family Planning_, vol. 21, #3, 5-6/90, pp. 152-160.

3. Konje, J., M.D., et al., "The effect of Continuous Subdermal Levonorgestrel (Norplant) on Carbohydrate Metabolism," _American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology_, Vol. 166, #1, part 1, 1/92, pp. 15-19.

4. Allen, C., "norplant - Birth Control or Coercion?" _Wall Street Journal_, 9/13/91, p. A10.

5. S. DuBoise Ravenal, M.D., High Point Infant and Child Clinic, Inc., High Point, N.C., 6/17/91 citing source listed in quote.

6. _Journal of the American Medical Association_ (JAMA) Vol. 265, No. 23, 6/19/91, p. 3100.

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