Research Article

Changed levels of endogenous sex steroids in women on oral contraceptives.

Br Med J 1976; 2 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.2.6048.1354 (Published 04 December 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;2:1354

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  1. J M Kjeld,
  2. C M Puah,
  3. G F Joplin

    Abstract

    Serum and urinary levels of unconjugated testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and oestradiol were measured by specific radioimmunoassays in 10 healthy women in the early follicular phase of their menstrual cycle and in nine healthy women taking oral contraceptives. The contraceptive group had testosterone levels 1-3 times higher and dihydrotestosterone levels two times higher than those in the controls. Serum oestradiol levels in the contraceptive group were much lower than those in the controls and similar to levels in postmenopausal women. The contraceptive group had about twice the urinary excretion of unconjugated (free) testosterone and dihydrotestosterone of the controls, but their excretion of unconjugated oestradiol was 2-7 times lower. The great increase in serum and urinary androgen concentrations, as well as the suppression of oestradiol, may be related to the antiovulatory effect of oral contraceptives.