Comparison of adolescent and adult experiences with norplant levonorgestrel contraceptive implants

Vanessa E. Cullins, Robin E. Remsburg, Paul D. Blumenthal, George R. Huggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To compare acceptability, tolerance of side effects, and continuation rates among adolescent and adult Norplant accepters. Methods: An 18-month observational study was conducted of 136 adolescents and 542 adults who received Norplant at the Francis Scott Key Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Data were collected from the following: a self-administered history form completed at the preinsertion visit, a self-administered follow-up form completed at routine follow-up visits, problem-visit chart review, and telephone contact for patients noncompliant with follow-up appointments. Results: The adolescents ranged in age from 13–18 years (mean 16.4), and adults ranged in age from 19–46 (mean 24.7). The mean parity among teenagers was 1.4; among adults, 3.2. Thirty-nine percent of teenagers and 64% of adults had had one or more therapeutic abortions. Forty percent of adolescents and 47% of adults reported at least one contraceptive failure in the past. Both adolescent and adult Norplant accepters made few telephone calls or problem visits because of complaints or side effects. Compliance with routine annual follow-up was poor for adolescents (24 of 136, 18%) and adults (72 of 542, 13%). Follow-up of noncompliant patients revealed low rates of implant removal. Fifteen adolescents (11%) and 60 adults (11%) had Norplant removed. The most common reasons for removal included irregular bleeding, weight gain, headaches, and desire for pregnancy. Conclusions: Implant acceptability, continuation, and tolerance of side effects were high and comparable among adolescent and adult accepters. Initial implant users were primarily adolescents or adults who had experienced problems with other forms of reversible contraception. Adherence to scheduled follow-up appointments was poor, regardless of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1032
Number of pages7
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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