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The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) activates the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) through first-pass hepatic metabolism. Although usually benign, RAAS activation may have detrimental effects on renal and hemodynamic function in some women. Since combined hormonal contraception with the transdermal patch (EVRA) does not undergo first-pass hepatic metabolism, we hypothesized that the RAAS response would be different from that of OCP subjects. Thirty-five nonsmoking, premenopausal women (15 control subjects, 10 OCP subjects, and 10 contraceptive patch subjects) without evidence of cardiovascular disease, renal disease, or diabetes were studied. Baseline angiotensinogen, renin, angiotensin II, aldosterone, and plasma renin activity were assessed along with hormonal and hemodynamic responses to simulated orthostatic stress using incremental lower body negative pressure (LBNP; -15, -25, and -40 mmHg). Baseline levels of angiotensinogen, angiotensin II, and plasma renin activity were significantly higher in OCP subjects compared with normotensive control and contraceptive patch subjects (P < 0.05), whereas aldosterone was significantly higher in OCP versus control subjects only (P < 0.05). Plasma renin levels were significantly lower at baseline in contraceptive patch subjects compared with normotensive control and OCP subjects (P < 0.05). In response to LBNP, increases in renin, angiotensin II, and aldosterone were attenuated in contraceptive patch subjects in conjunction with an exaggerated decline in mean arterial pressure (P < 0.05 vs. control and OCP subjects). The contraceptive patch in healthy premenopausal women is associated with an impaired ability to maintain blood pressure in response to LBNP, possibly due to insensitivity of the endogenous RAAS. Further evaluation may be beneficial in women with kidney disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Am j physiol renal physiol

Publication Date





F535 - F540


contraceptive patch, oral contraception, renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, Administration, Cutaneous, Adult, Angiotensin II, Blood Pressure, Case-Control Studies, Contraceptive Agents, Female, Female, Humans, Premenopause, Renin, Renin-Angiotensin System, Young Adult