by The Lowdown · May 24, 2021

by Dr Melanie Davis-Hall · May 24, 2021

Gestodene is like that friend who never wants to go anywhere on their own; a third-generation synthetic progestin, it’s almost always used in the combined pill alongside synthetic oestrogens.

Gestodene is almost always used in the combined pill alongside synthetic oestrogens.

Gestodene is thought to have no or weak androgenic activity, so it’s often recommended for use by people who prefer a less-androgenic contraceptive1. In some countries, it’s also used as a form of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

How does it work?

Gestodene stops you from ovulating. When it’s used alongside ethinyl estradiol (a synthetic oestrogen) it also makes your cervical fluid too thick for sperm to pass through, and makes your uterine lining too thin for a fertilised egg to implant.

What is it used in?

Combined pill

Is it androgenic?

Yes, but it is weak1. (Check out our ‘Androgens’ blog for more info on what this means).

What are the side effects?

As gestodene is only used in combined contraceptives with ethinyl estradiol (synthetic oestrogen), it’s hard to say which of the reported side effects it is responsible for, and which are down to its fellow hormone. When gestodene is used alongside ethinyl estradiol in the combine pill, the following side effects have been reported2 3:

  • Breast tenderness or enlargement
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Changes to your period
  • Changes to libido
  • Increased vaginal discharge

Talk to one of our friendly doctors

  1. Meeram, K. Chapter 38 – Hypothalamic, pituitary and sex hormones. In Clinical Pharmacology. Eleventh Edition. Churchill Livingstone. 2012. p 596-614.

  2. Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary (online) London: BMJ Group and Pharmaceutical Press <> [Accessed on 13 August 2020]

  3. Family Planning Association. Combined pill (COC). March 2021. Available at