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Clinical data
Trade names Femodene, Femodette, Gynera, Harmonet, Meliane, Minesse, Minulet, others
Synonyms SHB-331; δ15-Norgestrel; 15-Dehydronorgestrel; 17α-Ethynyl-18-methyl-19-nor-δ15-testosterone; 17α-Ethynyl-18-methylestra-4,15-dien-17β-ol-3-one; 13β-Ethyl-18,19-dinor-17α-pregna-4,15-dien-20-yn-17β-ol-3-one
AHFS/ International Drug Names
  • X
Routes of
By mouth
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
  • In general: ℞ (Prescription only)
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability 87–99%[1]
Biological half-life 12–14 hours[1]
Excretion Urine
CAS Number
PubChem CID
ECHA InfoCard 100.056.478
Chemical and physical data
Formula C21H26O2
Molar mass 310.430 g/mol
3D model (JSmol)

Gestodene, sold under the brand names Femodene, Femodette, Gynera, Harmonet, Meliane, Minesse, and Minulet among others, is a progestin which is used in combination with the estrogen ethinylestradiol as a hormonal contraceptive.[2][3] It is marketed in Europe but is not available in the United States.[4][5]

Medical uses[edit]


Gestodene is neutral in terms of androgenic activity, meaning that contraceptive pills containing gestodene do not exhibit the androgenic side effects (e.g., acne, hirsutism) sometimes associated with second-generation contraceptive pills such as those containing levonorgestrel.[6]

The estrogen dosage in third-generation contraceptive pills (including those containing gestodene) is lower than that in second-generation oral contraceptives, reducing the likelihood of weight gain, breast tenderness, and migraine.[7]

Third-generation oral contraceptives are also suitable for use in patients with diabetes or lipid disorders because they have minimal impact on blood glucose levels and the lipid profile.[8]

Available forms[edit]

Products containing gestodene include:

  • Melodene-15, Mirelle, and Minesse which contain 15 μg of ethinylestradiol and 60 μg of gestodene;
  • Meliane, Sunya, Femodette, and Millinette 20/75 which contain 20 μg of ethinylestradiol and 75 μg of gestodene; and
  • Gynera, Minulet, Femoden, Femodene, Katya and Millinette 30/75 which contain 30 μg of ethinylestradiol and 75 μg of gestodene.[9]

Side effects[edit]

Women who take oral contraceptives containing gestodene are 5.6 times as likely to develop venous thromboembolism than women who do not take any contraceptive pill, and 1.6 times as likely to develop venous thromboembolism compared to women taking oral contraceptives containing levonorgestrel.[10]



Gestodene is a potent progestogen, and also possesses weak androgenic, antimineralocorticoid, and glucocorticoid activity.[11][12] It has relatively high affinity for the androgen receptor (AR), with twice that of levonorgestrel (which is known to be one of the more androgenic 19-nortestosterone derivatives).[13] However, the ratio of progestogenic to androgenic effects of gestodene is distinctly higher than that of levonorgestrel, and the increase in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels (a marker of androgenicity) produced by oral contraceptives containing gestodene is slightly less than that produced by oral contraceptives containing desogestrel (which is known to be one of the more weakly androgenic 19-nortestosterone derivatives).[13] In addition, no difference in acne incidence has been observed with oral contraceptives containing gestodene and oral contraceptives containing desogestrel.[14] Moreover, gestodene has been found to strongly inhibit 5α-reductase in vitro (14.5% and 45.9% inhibition at 0.1 μM and 1 μM, respectively),[15] and this action was substantially greater than that of desogestrel or levonorgestrel.[13] Taken together, like desogestrel, gestodene appears to have a low potential for androgenic effects.[13] In addition to the AR, gestodene has very high affinity for the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), but only a relatively weak antimineralocorticoid effect that is comparable to that of progesterone.[13] Gestodene binds to SHBG with relatively high affinity, and is 75% bound to the protein in circulation.[12][13]

Although gestodene does not bind to the estrogen receptor itself, the drug may have some estrogenic activity, and this would appear to be mediated by its weakly estrogenic metabolites 3β,5α-tetrahydrogestodene and to a lesser extent 3α,5α-tetrahydrogestodene.[16]

Based on the dosage necessary to inhibit ovulation in women, gestodene is the most potent of all of the currently used contraceptive progestogens.[17][18][19] The oral dosage of gestodene required for ovulation inhibition is 30 or 40 μg per day.[18][20] This is about 10,000 times lower than the oral dosage of progesterone required to inhibit ovulation (300 mg/day).[12][21] A dosage of gestodene of 75 μg/day is used in contraceptives.[19]


Gestodene, also known as 17α-ethynyl-18-methyl-19-nor-δ15-testosterone, as well as 17α-ethynyl-18-methylestra-4,15-dien-17β-ol-3-one or 13β-ethyl-18,19-dinor-17α-pregna-4,15-dien-20-yn-17β-ol-3-one, is a synthetic estrane steroid and a derivative of testosterone.[2][22] It is more specifically a derivative of norethisterone (17α-ethynyl-19-nortestosterone) and is a member of the gonane (18-methylestrane) subgroup of the 19-nortestosterone family of progestins.[23] Gestodene is almost identical to levonorgestrel in terms of chemical structure, differing only in having an additional double bond between the C15 and C16 positions, and for this reason is also known as δ15-norgestrel or as 15-dehydronorgestrel.[24][25]


Gestodene was introduced in 1987.[26]

Society and culture[edit]

Generic names[edit]

Gestodene is the generic name of the drug and its INN, USAN, BAN, and DCF.[2][3]

Brand names[edit]

Gestodene is marketed as a contraceptive in combination with ethinylestradiol under a variety of brand names including Femoden, Femodene, Femodette, Gynera, Harmonet, Lindynette, Logest, Meliane, Millinette, Minesse, Minulet, Mirelle, and Triadene as well as many others.[22]


  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ a b c J. Elks (14 November 2014). The Dictionary of Drugs: Chemical Data: Chemical Data, Structures and Bibliographies. Springer. pp. 595–. ISBN 978-1-4757-2085-3. 
  3. ^ a b I.K. Morton; Judith M. Hall (31 October 1999). Concise Dictionary of Pharmacological Agents: Properties and Synonyms. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 132–. ISBN 978-0-7514-0499-9. 
  4. ^ Kenneth L. Becker (2001). Principles and Practice of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 1024–. ISBN 978-0-7817-1750-2. 
  5. ^ Qi Jiang; Weili He (25 May 2016). Benefit-Risk Assessment Methods in Medical Product Development: Bridging Qualitative and Quantitative Assessments. CRC Press. pp. 135–. ISBN 978-1-4822-5937-7. 
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  7. ^ Festin (2006). "Progestogens in combined oral contraceptives for contraception". The WHO Reproductive Health Library. 
  8. ^ Cerel-Suhl (1999). "Update on Oral Contraceptive Pills". American Family Physician. 60 (7): 2073–2084. 
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  10. ^ Lidegaard; et al. (2011). "Risk of venous thromboembolism from use of oral contraceptives containing different progestogens and oestrogen doses". BMJ. 343: 1–15. doi:10.1136/bmj.d6423. PMC 3202015Freely accessible. PMID 22027398. 
  11. ^ Fuhrmann, Ulrike; Slater, Emily P.; Fritzemeier, Karl-Heinrich (1995). "Characterization of the novel progestin gestodene by receptor binding studies and transactivation assays". Contraception. 51 (1): 45–52. doi:10.1016/0010-7824(94)00003-F. ISSN 0010-7824. 
  12. ^ a b c 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. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Stanczyk FZ, Archer DF (2014). "Gestodene: a review of its pharmacology, potency and tolerability in combined contraceptive preparations". Contraception. 89 (4): 242–52. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2013.12.003. PMID 24485094. 
  14. ^ Arowojolu, AO; Gallo, MF; Lopez, LM; Grimes, DA (11 July 2012). "Combined oral contraceptive pills for treatment of acne". The Cochrane database of systematic reviews (7): CD004425. PMID 22786490. 
  15. ^ Kuhl H (2005). "Pharmacology of estrogens and progestogens: influence of different routes of administration". Climacteric. 8 Suppl 1: 3–63. doi:10.1080/13697130500148875. PMID 16112947. 
  16. ^ Lemus AE, Zaga V, Santillán R, García GA, Grillasca I, Damián-Matsumura P, Jackson KJ, Cooney AJ, Larrea F, Pérez-Palacios G (2000). "The oestrogenic effects of gestodene, a potent contraceptive progestin, are mediated by its A-ring reduced metabolites". J. Endocrinol. 165 (3): 693–702. doi:10.1677/joe.0.1650693. PMID 10828854. 
  17. ^ Sven O. Skouby (15 July 1997). Clinical Perspectives on a New Gestodene Oral Contraceptive Containing 20μg of Ethinylestradiol. CRC Press. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-1-85070-786-8. 
  18. ^ a b Benagiano G, Primiero FM, Farris M (2004). "Clinical profile of contraceptive progestins". Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 9 (3): 182–93. doi:10.1080/13625180400007736. PMID 15697108. 
  19. ^ a b Donna Shoupe; Florence P. Haseltine (6 December 2012). Contraception. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 62–. ISBN 978-1-4612-2730-4. 
  20. ^ Schindler AE, Campagnoli C, Druckmann R, Huber J, Pasqualini JR, Schweppe KW, Thijssen JH (2008). "Classification and pharmacology of progestins". Maturitas. 61 (1-2): 171–80. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2008.11.013. PMID 19434889. 
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  22. ^ a b
  23. ^ Jerome Frank Strauss; Robert L. Barbieri (2009). Yen and Jaffe's Reproductive Endocrinology: Physiology, Pathophysiology, and Clinical Management. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 878–. ISBN 1-4160-4907-X. 
  24. ^ Ellen JM, Irwin CE (1996). "Primary care management of adolescent sexual behavior". Curr. Opin. Pediatr. 8 (5): 442–8. PMID 8946122. 
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  26. ^ Benno Clemens Runnebaum; Thomas Rabe; Ludwig Kiesel (6 December 2012). Female Contraception: Update and Trends. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 13–. ISBN 978-3-642-73790-9.