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Top, levonorgestrel (CAS 797-63-7 );
Bottom: dextronorgestrel (CAS 797-64-8 ).
Clinical data
Trade namesOvral, others
Other namesdl-Norgestrel; DL-Norgestrel; (±)-Norgestrel; WY-3707; SH-70850; SH-850; FH 122-A; rac-13-Ethyl-17α-ethynyl-19-nortestosterone; rac-13-Ethyl-17α-ethynylestr-4-en-17β-ol-3-one
AHFS/Drugs.comMicromedex Detailed Consumer Information
Routes of
By mouth
Drug classProgestogen; Progestin
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
  • (8R,9S,10R,13S,14S)-13-ethyl-17-ethynyl-17-hydroxy-1,2,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,14,15,16-dodecahydrocyclopenta[a]phenanthren-3-one
CAS Number
  • 6533-00-2 checkY
PubChem CID
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
ECHA InfoCard100.026.758 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass312.453 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
  • O=C\1CC[C@H]4C(=C/1)/CC[C@@H]3[C@@H]4CC[C@@]2(CC)[C@H]3CCC2(O)C#C
  • InChI=1S/C21H28O2/c1-3-20-11-9-17-16-8-6-15(22)13-14(16)5-7-18(17)19(20)10-12-21(20,23)4-2/h2,13,16-19,23H,3,5-12H2,1H3/t16-,17+,18+,19-,20-,21?/m0/s1 checkY

Norgestrel, sold under the brand name Ovral among others, is a progestin medication which is used in birth control pills and in menopausal hormone therapy.[1][2][3][4] It is available both in combination with an estrogen and alone.[5] It is taken by mouth.[3][4]

Side effects of norgestrel include menstrual irregularities, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, mood changes, acne, increased hair growth, and others.[citation needed] Norgestrel is a progestin, or a synthetic progestogen, and hence is an agonist of the progesterone receptor, the biological target of progestogens like progesterone.[4] It has weak androgenic activity and no other important hormonal activity.[4]

Norgestrel was patented in 1961 and came into medical use, specifically in birth control pills, in 1966.[6][7][8] It was subsequently introduced for use in menopausal hormone therapy as well.[5] Norgestrel is sometimes referred to as a "second-generation" progestin.[9] It is marketed widely throughout the world.[5][2] Norgestrel is available as a generic medication.[10] In 2017, the version with ethinylestradiol was the 284th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than one million prescriptions.[11][12]

Medical uses[edit]

Norgestrel is used in combination with ethinylestradiol or quinestrol in combined birth control pills, alone in progestogen-only birth control pills, and in combination with estradiol or conjugated estrogens in menopausal hormone therapy.[5] It has also been used as an emergency contraceptive in the Yuzpe regimen.[13]

Side effects[edit]



Norgestrel is a progestogen, or an agonist of the progesterone receptor.[4] The biological activity of norgestrel lies in the levo enantiomer, levonorgestrel, whereas the dextro isomer is inactive.[4] As such, norgestrel is identical in its hormonal activity to levonorgestrel except that it is half as potent by weight.[4] Levonorgestrel, and by extension norgestrel, have some androgenic activity, but no estrogenic, antimineralocorticoid, or glucocorticoid activity.[4]

Relative affinities (%) of levonorgestrel and metabolites
Levonorgestrel 150–162 34a, 45 0 1–8 17–75 50 0
5α-Dihydrolevonorgestrel 50 38a 0 ? ? ? ?
3α,5α-Tetrahydrolevonorgestrel ? ? 0.4 ? ? ? ?
3β,5α-Tetrahydrolevonorgestrel ? ? 2.4 ? ? ? ?
Notes: Values are percentages (%). Reference ligands (100%) were promegestone for the PR, metribolone (a = mibolerone) for the AR, E2 for the ER, DEXA for the GR, aldosterone for the MR, DHT for SHBG, and cortisol for CBG. Sources: See template.


The pharmacokinetics of norgestrel have been reviewed.[14]


Norgestrel, also known as rac-13-ethyl-17α-ethynyl-19-nortestosterone or as rac-13-ethyl-17α-ethynylestr-4-en-17β-ol-3-one, is a synthetic estrane steroid and a derivative of testosterone.[1][2] It is a racemic mixture of stereoisomers dextronorgestrel (the C13α isomer; l-norgestrel, L-norgestrel, or (+)-norgestrel) and levonorgestrel (the C13β isomer; d-norgestrel, D-norgestrel, or (–)-norgestrel), the former of which is inactive (making norgestrel exactly half as potent as levonorgestrel).[15][16] Norgestrel 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.[17]


Chemical syntheses of norgestrel have been published.[14]


Norgestrel was first introduced, as a birth control pill in combination with ethinylestradiol, under the brand name Eugynon in Germany in 1966.[6][7] It was subsequently marketed as a combined birth control pill with ethinylestradiol in the United States under the brand name Ovral in 1968, and was marketed in many other countries as well. In 2019 it was discontinued.[18][19][5]

Society and culture[edit]

Generic names[edit]

Norgestrel is the generic name of the drug and its INN, USAN, USP, BAN, DCF, DCIT, and JAN.[1][2][3][5] It is also known as dl-norgestrel, DL-norgestrel, or (±)-norgestrel.[1][2][3][5]

Brand names[edit]

Norgestrel has been marketed under a variety of brand names including Cyclacur, Cryselle, Cyclo-Progynova, Duoluton, Elinest, Eugynon, Microgynon, Lo/Ovral, Low-Ogestrel, Logynon, Microlut, Minicon, Nordette, Neogest, Ogestrel, Ovral, Ovran, Ovranette, Ovrette, Planovar, Prempak, Progyluton, and Trinordiol among others.[1][2][5][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e J. Elks (14 November 2014). The Dictionary of Drugs: Chemical Data: Chemical Data, Structures and Bibliographies. Springer. pp. 887–. ISBN 978-1-4757-2085-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Index Nominum 2000: International Drug Directory. Taylor & Francis. 2000. pp. 751–. ISBN 978-3-88763-075-1.
  3. ^ a b c d I.K. Morton; Judith M. Hall (6 December 2012). Concise Dictionary of Pharmacological Agents: Properties and Synonyms. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 202–. ISBN 978-94-011-4439-1.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Kuhl H (2005). "Pharmacology of estrogens and progestogens: influence of different routes of administration" (PDF). Climacteric. 8 Suppl 1: 3–63. doi:10.1080/13697130500148875. PMID 16112947. S2CID 24616324.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h
  6. ^ a b Teresa Ortiz-Gómez; María Jesús Santesmases (22 April 2016). Gendered Drugs and Medicine: Historical and Socio-Cultural Perspectives. Taylor & Francis. pp. 175–. ISBN 978-1-317-12981-3. The 1966 marketing campaign for Schering's second contraceptive, Eugynon, [...] (Schering AG Berline 1966, 11). [...] In 1970 [Schering] had already conducted an opinion poll among doctors in the run up to the marketing campaign for the newly introduced Neogynon. [...]
  7. ^ a b W. Gerhard Pohl (2004). Die wissenschaftliche Welt von gestern: die Preisträger des Ignaz L. Lieben-Preises 1865-1937 und des Richard Lieben-Preises 1912-1928 : ein Kapitel österreichischer Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Kurzbiografien. Böhlau Verlag Wien. pp. 150–. ISBN 978-3-205-77303-0. [The contraceptive EUGYNON is launched in 1966. NEOGYNON follows in 1970.]
  8. ^ Fischer, Jnos; Ganellin, C. Robin (2006). Analogue-based Drug Discovery. John Wiley & Sons. p. 479. ISBN 9783527607495.
  9. ^ Howard J.A. Carp (9 April 2015). Progestogens in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Springer. p. 112. ISBN 978-3-319-14385-9.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "The Top 300 of 2020". ClinCalc. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Ethinyl Estradiol; Norgestrel - Drug Usage Statistics". ClinCalc. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  13. ^ Yuzpe AA, Smith RP & Rademaker AW (1982). "A Multicenter Clinical Investigation Employing Ethinyl Estradiol Combined with dl-Norgestrel as Postcoital Contraceptive Agent". Fertility and Sterility. 37 (4): 508–513. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(16)46157-1. PMID 7040117.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  14. ^ a b Die Gestagene. Springer-Verlag. 27 November 2013. pp. 16–17, 284–. ISBN 978-3-642-99941-3.
  15. ^ Brian K. Alldredge; Robin L. Corelli; Michael E. Ernst (1 February 2012). Koda-Kimble and Young's Applied Therapeutics: The Clinical Use of Drugs. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 1072–. ISBN 978-1-60913-713-7.
  16. ^ J.P. Lavery; J.S. Sanfilippo (6 December 2012). Pediatric and Adolescent Obstetrics and Gynecology. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 248–. ISBN 978-1-4612-5064-7.
  17. ^ Stefan Offermanns; W. Rosenthal (14 August 2008). Encyclopedia of Molecular Pharmacology. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 390–. ISBN 978-3-540-38916-3.
  18. ^ a b William Andrew Publishing (22 October 2013). Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition. Elsevier. pp. 2935–. ISBN 978-0-8155-1856-3.
  19. ^ Lara Marks (2010). Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill. Yale University Press. pp. 73–. ISBN 978-0-300-16791-7.