Can hormone levels be lowered in contraceptives?


A recent model indicates anovulation can be achieved through lower estrogen and progesterone levels in contraceptives than what are currently used.

Can hormone levels be lowered in contraceptives? | Image Credit: © whitehoune - © whitehoune -

Can hormone levels be lowered in contraceptives? | Image Credit: © whitehoune - © whitehoune -

Common contraceptives could still be effective for suppressing ovulation after having hormone doses reduced by up to 92%, according to a recent model published in LOS Computational Biology.1

There are multiple phases in the average menstrual cycle, influenced by various hormone levels and regulated by the endocrine system.These phases include ovarian follicular development, ovulation, and luteinization.2

Ovulation is the phase of the cycle where an egg enters the uterus,1 and is blocked through contraceptives such as pills, implants, and injectables. Most contraceptives block ovulation by administering exogenous estrogen or progesterone.

Anovulation refers to failure from the follicle to release the egg,2 and is commonly achieved through estrogen-only, progesterone-only, and combined estrogen to progesterone contraceptives.

In this recent study, investigators analyzed anovulation using data from 23 women with normal menstrual cycles aged 20 to 34 years. Computational models showing interactions among different hormone levels and the effects of exogenous hormones were developed using hormone level data.

Further reductions could be reached in combined estrogen and progesterone contraceptives. Also, displays of the importance of timing in the model indicate doses could be given at specific phases of the menstrual cycle rather than continuously.

“These results may give clinicians insights into optimal dosing formulations and schedule of therapy that can suppress ovulation,” said authors of the model.


1. Model suggests lowering hormone doses in contraceptives. EurekAlert. April 13, 2023. Accessed April 13, 2023.

2. Gavina BLA, De los Reyes AA, Olufsen MS, Lenhart S, Ottesen JT. Toward an optimal contraception dosing strategy. PLOS Comput Biol. 2023;19(4).doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1010073

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