Timing of onset of contraceptive effectiveness in Norplant implant users. Part I. Changes in cervical mucus.

Journal Article (Clinical Trial;Multicenter Study;Journal Article)


To provide scientific data regarding the changes in cervical mucus within the first hours to days after Norplant implant insertion and to estimate when the cervical mucus is hostile enough to suggest a contraceptive effect.


Multicenter, clinical descriptive study.


Family planning clinics.


Forty-two women who were between days 8 and 13 of their menstrual cycle and who had requested Norplant implants were admitted to the study.


Cervical mucus and blood samples were obtained.

Main outcome measure(s)

Cervical mucus scores, sperm penetration distances, and serum levels of progesterone, estradiol, and levonorgestrel.


The median cervical mucus score observed at baseline was 6 ("fair"), indicating that the mucus was already somewhat hostile before insertion of the Norplant implants. The median scores declined to 5 at 12 and 24 hours and continued to decrease through day 7 to 2 ("poor"), a score that is judged as hostile to sperm penetration. Overall, 73% of all subjects had a poor cervical mucus score by 3 days after insertion; at 7 days after insertion, 90% exhibited poor mucus and none had a good score. There was a substantial drop in the overall median distance traveled by the vanguard sperm after 12 hours for each cervical mucus score grouping. The distance traveled decreased rapidly between 12 and 24 hours to < 0.5 cm in subjects with fair and poor mucus, and by day 3, 91% of the subjects exhibited poor sperm penetration.


On the basis of our findings, deterioration of the quality of the cervical mucus and sperm penetration is evident by 24 hours after insertion, although not to a level that would suggest adequate protection until 72 hours after insertion. Therefore, we are confident in recommending that backup methods of contraception (e.g, condoms) need not be used for more than 3 days after insertion, even when the implants are inserted close to ovulation. These findings provide policy makers, clinic managers, and clinicians with important information about how they can improve client access to Norplant implants.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dunson, TR; Blumenthal, PD; Alvarez, F; Brache, V; Cochon, L; Dalberth, B; Glover, L; Remsburg, R; Vu, K; Katz, D

Published Date

  • February 1998

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 69 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 258 - 266

PubMed ID

  • 9496339

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1556-5653

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0015-0282

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/s0015-0282(97)00476-7


  • eng