Dianette is a medication prescribed to women who are experiencing severe acne or excessive hair growth, known as hirsutism. It is usually only prescribed for women who haven’t responded to other treatments. Although it also works effectively as a contraceptive, it is not usually prescribed purely for this use.

How does Dianette work?

Dianette contains the active ingredients Cyproterone Acetate and Ethinylestradiol. Cyproterone acetate is an anti-androgen. Androgens are male sex hormones produced by both men and women. In men, they are vital to the development of sex organs. In women, androgens stimulate the growth of body hair and the production of estrogen.

Androgens also stimulate the production of sebum, an oily substance, by the sebaceous glands in the skin. The natural purpose of sebum is to moisturise the skin and hair, but when produced in excess can become trapped in the pores by dead skin cells, resulting in acne. Trapped sebum becomes infected easily, leading to more severe cases of acne.

Overproduction of androgens in women often results in severe acne and excessive hair growth. The Cyproterone Acetate in Dianette works in two ways: it reduces the amount of androgens produced in the ovaries and blocks the receptors in the body that androgens act on. This limits the stimulating effect of androgens on the sebaceous glands, helping to prevent excess production of sebum and excessive hair production.

It can take a few months for the full effects of Dianette to become apparent. It is recommended to continue taking it for at least 3 months after you begin to notice an improvement in your acne or hirsutism.


Can Dianette be used as a contraceptive?

Dianette also works as a combined contraceptive pill, because Ethinylestradiol is a synthetic form of oestrogen while Cyproterone acts as a form of progesterone. However, the use of Dianette as a contraceptive is no longer recommended or offered as a free contraceptive by the NHS. You can read about other available forms of contraceptive medication here.


Will Dianette stop my period?

Taking Dianette can alter your periods. Some people find that their periods stop altogether, even for some time after they stop taking Dianette. Your periods may become erratic while taking Dianette, or you may experience some spotting or breakthrough bleeding.


Does Dianette cause weight gain?

Some women report that they gained weight while taking Dianette. This may be caused by water retention, which is a common side effect of contraceptive medications. However, everyone is different and everybody’s body reacts differently to hormonal medications. Many women notice no difference in their weight whilst taking Dianette. Weight gain is more likely to occur in the first few months of taking the medication, as your body is adjusting to the hormonal changes.

If you do feel like you are gaining weight whilst taking Dianette, it might be worth weighing yourself on a weekly basis to keep an eye on the changes, remembering to take into account factors such as change in diet and exercise. If you are concerned, you can talk to your doctor about whether the benefits of the medication are worth the side effects.


What are the other side effects of Dianette?

Some people experience other minor side effects when taking Dianette. These can include:

  • Abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting

  • Headaches

  • Tenderness in the breast

  • Raised blood pressure

  • Vaginal thrush

  • Reduced sex drive

  • Mood swings or depression

  • Changes in your skin

Dianette has been linked to more serious side effects, such a disturbed liver function and gallstones. It has also been suggested Dianette carries a slightly higher risk of blood clots than other contraceptive medication. There is no reason for a woman who is feeling fit and well to stop taking Dianette, but it is very important to know the symptoms and when to seek medical advice. Symptoms of a blood clot include:

  • Pain and swelling in the legs

  • Severe pain in the chest

  • Breathlessness and coughing

  • Severe headache

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Loss of vision

  • Slurred speech

  • Dizziness or fainting


Is Dianette linked to cancer?

Women taking hormonal contraceptives are at a slightly higher risk of being diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer than women who are not taking hormonal contraceptives. On the other hand, they have a lower risk of being diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancers. If you are worried about the risks, you can speak to a doctor or a nurse for more information.


What other treatments for acne and hirsutism are available?

There are many treatments available for acne. For mild cases, you can buy over-the-counter creams and gel with help from a pharmacist. For more severe acne, your doctor can prescribe both topical and oral treatments, including antibiotics (such as Lymecycline or Oxytetracycline). Find out more about different types of acne and their treatments here.

If you do not wish to take Dianette for hirsutism, excessive hair growth can be managed with over-the-counter hair-removal products. Electrolysis and laser hair removal are also options. Start your 2-minute consultation with Dr Felix doctor today to find out which option is right for you.