Etynodiol diacetate

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Etynodiol diacetate
Ethynodiol diacetate.svg
Clinical data
Trade namesContinuin, Demulen, Femulen, Luteonorm, Luto-Metrodiol, Metrodiol, Ovulen, others
Other namesEthynodiol diacetate; Norethindrol diacetate; 3β-Hydroxynorethisterone 3β,17β-diacetate;[1] 17α-Ethynylestr-4-ene-3β,17β-diyl diacetate; CB-8080; SC-11800
Routes of
By mouth
Drug classProgestogen; Progestin; Progestogen ester
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
  • In general: ℞ (Prescription only)
CAS Number
PubChem CID
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
ECHA InfoCard100.005.496 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass384.516 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)

Etynodiol diacetate, or ethynodiol diacetate, sold under the brand names Demulen and Femulen among others, is a progestin medication which is used in birth control pills.[2][3][4] The medication is available only in combination with an estrogen.[5] It is taken by mouth.[6]

Etynodiol diacetate is a progestin, or a synthetic progestogen, and hence is an agonist of the progesterone receptor, the biological target of progestogens like progesterone.[7][8] It has weak androgenic and estrogenic activity and no other important hormonal activity.[9][10][11] The medication is a prodrug of norethisterone in the body, with etynodiol occurring as an intermediate.[7][8][12]

Etynodiol, a related compound, was discovered in 1954, and etynodiol diacetate was introduced for medical use in 1965.[13][14] The medication remains available today only in the United States, Canada, and a few other countries.[4][5]

Medical uses[edit]

Etynodiol diacetate is used in combination with an estrogen such as ethinylestradiol or mestranol in combined oral contraceptives for women.[6]

Side effects[edit]


Norethisterone (3-ketoetynodiol), the active metabolite of etynodiol diacetate.

Etynodiol diacetate is virtually inactive in terms of affinity for the progesterone and androgen receptors and acts as a rapidly converted prodrug of norethisterone, with etynodiol occurring as an intermediate.[7][8][12] Upon oral administration and during first-pass metabolism in the liver, etynodiol diacetate is rapidly converted by esterases into etynodiol,[12] which is followed by oxygenation of the C3 hydroxyl group to produce norethisterone.[8] In addition to its progestogenic activity, etynodiol diacetate has weak androgenic activity,[9][10] and, unlike most progestins but similarly to norethisterone and noretynodrel,[15] also has some estrogenic activity.[10][11]

The pharmacokinetics of etynodiol diacetate have been reviewed.[16]

Relative affinities (%) of norethisterone, metabolites, and prodrugs
Compound Typea PR AR ER GR MR SHBG CBG
Norethisterone 67–75 15 0 0–1 0–3 16 0
5α-Dihydronorethisterone Metabolite 25 27 0 0 ? ? ?
3α,5α-Tetrahydronorethisterone Metabolite 1 0 0–1 0 ? ? ?
3α,5β-Tetrahydronorethisterone Metabolite ? 0 0 ? ? ? ?
3β,5α-Tetrahydronorethisterone Metabolite 1 0 0–8 0 ? ? ?
Ethinylestradiol Metabolite 15–25 1–3 112 1–3 0 0.18 0
Norethisterone acetate Prodrug 20 5 1 0 0 ? ?
Norethisterone enanthate Prodrug ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Noretynodrel Prodrug 6 0 2 0 0 0 0
Etynodiol Prodrug 1 0 11–18 0 ? ? ?
Etynodiol diacetate Prodrug 1 0 0 0 0 ? ?
Lynestrenol Prodrug 1 1 3 0 0 ? ?
Notes: Values are percentages (%). Reference ligands (100%) were promegestone for the PR, metribolone for the AR, estradiol for the ER, dexamethasone for the GR, aldosterone for the MR, dihydrotestosterone for SHBG, and cortisol for CBG. Footnotes: a = Active or inactive metabolite, prodrug, or neither of norethisterone. Sources: See template.


Etynodiol diacetate, also known as 3β-hydroxy-17α-ethynyl-19-nortestosterone 3β,17β-diaceate, 3β-hydroxynorethisterone 3β,17β-diacetate, or 17α-ethynylestr-4-ene-3β,17β-diol 3β,17β-diacetate, is a synthetic estrane steroid and a derivative of testosterone.[1][3][4] It is specifically a derivative of 19-nortestosterone and 17α-ethynyltestosterone, or of norethisterone (17α-ethynyl-19-nortestosterone), in which the C3 ketone group has been dehydrogenated into a C3β hydroxyl group and acetate esters have been attached at the C3β and C17β positions.[3][4] Etynodiol diacetate is the 3β,17β-diacetate ester of etynodiol (17α-ethynylestr-4-ene-3β,17β-diol).[3][4]


Ethynodiol diacetate synthesis:[17] F. B. Colton, U.S. Patent 2,843,609 (1958 to Searle). Prepn of the 3-acetate, 17-acetate, and diacetate: P. D. Klimstra, U.S. Patent 3,176,013 (1965 to Searle); see also:[18]

Chemical syntheses of etynodiol diacetate have been published.[16]

Reduction of norethisterone (1) affords the 3,17-diol. The 3β-hydroxy compound is the desired product; since reactions at C3 do not show nearly the stereoselectivity as those at C17 by virtue of the relative lack of stereo-directing proximate substituents, the formation of the desired isomer is engendered by use of a bulky reducing agent, lithium tri-tert-butoxyaluminum hydride. Acetylation of the 3β,17β-diol affords etynodiol diacetate (3).[17]


Etynodiol was first synthesized in 1954, via reduction of norethisterone, and etynodiol diacetate was introduced for medical use in 1965.[13][14]

Society and culture[edit]

Generic names[edit]

Etynodiol diacetate is the generic name of the drug (the INN of its free alcohol form is etynodiol), while ethynodiol diacetate is its USAN, BAN, and JAN.[3][4][5] It is also known by its former developmental code names CB-8080 and SC-11800.[3][4][5]

Brand names[edit]

Etynodiol diacetate is or has been marketed under brand names including Conova, Continuin, Demulen, Femulen, Kelnor, Luteonorm, Luto-Metrodiol, Metrodiol, Ovulen, Soluna, Zovia, and others.[3][4][5]


Etynodiol diacetate remains marketed in only a few countries, including the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Oman.[5]


  1. ^ a b Schindler, Adolf E; Campagnoli, Carlo; Druckmann, René; Huber, Johannes; Pasqualini, Jorge R; Schweppe, Karl W; Thijssen, Jos H.H (2003). "Classification and pharmacology of progestins". Maturitas. 46: 7–16. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2003.09.014. ISSN 0378-5122. PMID 14670641.
  2. ^ Donna Shoupe; Florence P. Haseltine (6 December 2012). Contraception. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 21–. ISBN 978-1-4612-2730-4.
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  5. ^ a b c d e f
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  8. ^ a b c d IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans; World Health Organization; International Agency for Research on Cancer (2007). Combined Estrogen-progestogen Contraceptives and Combined Estrogen-progestogen Menopausal Therapy. World Health Organization. pp. 146–. ISBN 978-92-832-1291-1.
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  12. ^ a b c Stanczyk FZ (2002). "Pharmacokinetics and potency of progestins used for hormone replacement therapy and contraception". Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 3 (3): 211–24. doi:10.1023/A:1020072325818. PMID 12215716.
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  18. ^ Sondheimer, F.; Klibansky, Y. (1959). "Synthesis of 3β-hydroxy analogues of steroidal hormones, a biologically active class of compounds". Tetrahedron. 5: 15–26. doi:10.1016/0040-4020(59)80066-1.