The antiandrogen (acts against testosterone) hormone cyproterone acetate (Androcur) is used alone in women to treat excessive body hair, loss of scalp hair and severe acne in women, and in men for the reduction of sexual drive, premature puberty and cancer of the prostate gland. It is combined with ethinyloestradiol in some contraceptive pills (e.g. Diane) to control acne and oily skin, as well as a being a contraceptive; and with oestradiol valerate to ease the symptoms of the menopause.
It is not to be used in pregnancy or breastfeeding and adequate contraception must be used in sexually active women. Do not take it if suffering from severe liver disease, blood clots, sickle cell anaemia, severe depression or diabetes. It is not to be used in prepubertal girls and is for use in boys only if medically indicated. Use cyproterone with caution in those with diabetes and liver tumours.
The side effects may include male infertility, reduced libido, tiredness, increased weight, nausea, headache and irregular menstrual periods. Less commonly breast enlargement in men, depression, breast milk production, sleeplessness and hot flushes may occur. There is an increased risk of developing a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis).
It has no significant interactions and an overdose causes an aggravation of side effects.