Effects on acne of two oral contraceptives containing desogestrel and cyproterone acetate

Int J Fertil Menopausal Stud. 1996 Jul-Aug;41(4):423-9.


Objective: To compare the effects of a low-dose oral contraceptive containing desogestrel (Marvelon) and an anti-androgenic preparation containing cyproterone acetate (Diane) in Oriental women suffering from acne.

Methods: In an open-label, bi-center, randomized study, 32 women using Marvelon and 34 using Diane were followed for 6 treatment cycles. The measured variables were objective and subjective severity of acne, and related biochemical variables such as sex hormone-binding globulin and free and total testosterone.

Results: In Center A, with both preparations a decrease in mean objective acne score was observed, reaching statistical significance with Diane (P < .05). In addition, there was a significant between group difference at cycle 6 (P < .05). In Center B, a consistent and significant decrease in mean acne score was observed with Marvelon after three and six treatment cycles (P < .05 and P < .01) and with Diane after six treatment cycles (P < .001). There were no significant between-group differences. The decrease in percentage of severe/moderate acne was statistically significant with Marvelon in Center B (P = 0.002) and with Diane in Centers A (P = 0.014) and B (P = 0.004). Both preparations increased plasma levels of sex hormone binding globulin and seemed to decrease those of total and free testosterone, but no statistically significant relationships between acne severity and biochemical variables could be detected.

Conclusion: Both Marvelon and Diane are effective in the treatment of acne in Oriental women who also need reliable contraception, without marked differences between the preparations.

PIP: In Thailand, at the Prince of Sonkhla University in Sonkhla (Center A) and Rajvithi Hospital in Bangkok (Center B), researchers compared data on 32 women using a low-dose combined oral contraceptive (OC) containing 150 mcg desogestrel plus 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol (Marvelon) with data on 34 women using an OC containing 2000 mcg cyproterone acetate plus 50 mcg ethinyl estradiol (Diane) to examine their efficacy in acne treatment. All the women presented with acne and were between 16 and 30 years old. The study consisted of a baseline cycle and 6 successive treatment cycles. The mean objective acne score decreased with both OCs in Center A. This decrease was significant with Diane after 3 and 6 treatment cycles (p 0.05). At cycle 6, the mean objective score for Diane was much lower than that for Marvelon (p 0.05). At Center B, the mean objective score consistently and significantly decreased with Marvelon after 3 and 6 treatment cycles (p 0.05 and p 0.01, respectively) and with Diane after 6 treatment cycles (p 0.001). No significant between-group differences existed for Center B. The percentage of women with moderate/severe acne decreased significantly with Marvelon at Center B (p = 0.002) and with Diane in Centers A (p = 0.014) and B (p = 0.004). Both Diane and Marvelon significantly increased plasma levels of sex hormone binding globulin at 3 and 6 treatment cycles (p 0.01). They tended to reduce plasma levels of total and free testosterone. This decrease only reached significance with Marvelon, however (p 0.05). There were no significant associations between acne severity and biochemical variables. These findings suggest that both OCs cause significant improvement in acne in most Asian women who also may need a reliable contraceptive. There were no significant differences between the two OCs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / diagnosis
  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Synthetic / administration & dosage
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Synthetic / adverse effects
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Synthetic / therapeutic use*
  • Cyproterone Acetate / therapeutic use*
  • Desogestrel / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Progesterone Congeners / therapeutic use*
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / drug effects
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / metabolism


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Synthetic
  • Progesterone Congeners
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone
  • Cyproterone Acetate
  • Desogestrel