Influence of gestodene and desogestrel as components of low-dose oral contraceptives on the pharmacokinetics of ethinyl estradiol (EE2), on serum CBG and on urinary cortisol and 6 beta-hydroxycortisol.Contraception. 1993 Mar; 47(3):263-81.C
A randomized controlled clinical trial was undertaken over a 6-month treatment period with two low-dose combined oral contraceptives (OC) to investigate whether the metabolism and elimination of ethinyl estradiol (EE2) is differently influenced by the two progestational components gestodene (G) and desogestrel (D), an issue which has been very controversial recently. The two formulations contained 30 micrograms EE2 each, together with either 75 micrograms G or 150 micrograms D. Of the 40 young women recruited for each formulation, 31 of each group were available for statistical evaluation. The pharmacokinetics of serum EE2 were studied on day 1, 10 and 21 of cycle 1, 3 and 6. There were no significant differences between the two groups in any cycle with respect to parameters measured. This was true for the distinct intracyclical rise in the mean EE2 serum levels from day 1 to day 10 and the smaller further increase between day 10 and day 21, with no change in this respect between the cycles studied. Respective changes were seen with regard to the area under the EE2 serum concentration curve up to 4 and 24 hours (AUC0-4 and AUC0-24), cmax and tmax of serum EE2. The estrogen-dependent corticoid-binding globulin (CBG) increased similarly in the two groups intracyclically and slightly also intercyclically at all times tested. Except for the first treatment cycle, urinary excretion of cortisol and 6 beta-hydroxycortisol displayed a tendency to lower values intracyclically as well as intercyclically, again with no differences between the two groups. Also, the 6 beta-hydroxycortisol-to-cortisol ratio was not different between the groups, showing a slight tendency to rise from about 4 at the beginning of the medication to around 5.5 at the end of the 6th treatment cycle in both groups. It is concluded that G and D as components of low-dose OCs exert comparable effects on the metabolism and elimination of EE2.