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What Is Diane 35?

Diane 35, or just Diane, is a medication that combines cyproterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol. It is an antiandrogen and progestogen, which is why Diane 35 is mainly prescribed to treat medical conditions dependent on androgens — hormones such as testosterone and androstenedione. 

You may be prescribed Diane 35 to treat conditions such as:

  • Acne
  • Hirsutism — excessive, male-pattern, bodily hair growth in women
  • Seborrhea — an excessively oily skin
  • As a component of hormone replacement therapy in trans women
  • Precocious puberty 
  • As part of prostate cancer treatment

Diane 35 is commonly prescribed to women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, whose hyperandrogenism frequently causes acne, excessive hair growth, and an oily skin. 

Diane 35 does, also, act as a birth control pill in women. Its manufacturer, Bayer, warns that Diane 35 should not be used solely as a birth control pill, however — this medication is designed to be used for other purposes, and if you simply want a contraceptive, you have many other options at your disposal. If you do use Diane 35, you should not use another hormonal contraceptive at the same time. 

Who Should Not Take Diane 35?

Professional bodies that investigated the safety of Diane 35 concluded that its benefits outweigh its risks when prescribed correctly. However, due to an increased risk of blood clot (thromboembolism) formation, it's important to know when not to take Diane 35. 

The contraindications (situations in which one should never take a drug) for Diane 35 include:

  • Ever having had a blood clot, or even redness, swelling, or pain in veins anywhere in your body. 
  • A higher risk of developing blood clots, due to a medical condition or a family history of blood clots.
  • A stroke or TIA.
  • Any cardiovascular disease, including a prior heart attack and uncontrolled hypertension.
  • Migraines.
  • Any liver disease. 
  • Any cancer that is estrogen-respondent.
  • Severe diabetes.
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding between periods.

You also need to have a serious chat with your doctor before taking Diane 35 if you smoke, have a history of depression, have uterine fibroids, have vision problems, wear contact lenses, suffer from edema, or are obese.

While all of that may make Diane 35 sound so scary that you no longer want to take it, you should be aware that nearly all medications come with similar scary contraindication lists, and that it is simply important for you and your doctor to figure out whether any prescription drug is likely to meet your needs without causing undue harm before you begin taking it. 

What Side Effects Can You Expect On Diane 35?

Like any medication that contains a combination of estrogen and progestogen, Diane 35 may cause nausea and possible vomiting, painful periods, breast tenderness, libido changes, weight changes, altered vaginal discharge, and PMS-like symptoms.  Another "side effect", since Diane 35 is not primarily a contraceptive, is the inability to get pregnant. These symptoms may persist for some time after you cease to use Diane 35, as your hormone levels readjust. 

While you should always let your doctor know about any suspected side effects, regularly visit your doctor for follow-up appointments, and stop taking Diane 35 when your doctor tells you to after your treatment is complete, there are instances in which you need to seek emergency medical treatment.

Call emergency medical services or head for the ER, while immediately stopping the use of Diane 35, if:

  • You notice (one of) your legs are warm, swollen, painful, and possibly discolored. These are signs of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Also call your doctor if you notice these symptoms anywhere else on your body.
  • Chest pain or tightness, breathing difficulties, pain in your arm or jaw, or stomach pain that resembles heartburn. These are possible signs of a heart attack. 
  • Nausea and vomiting along with blurred vision and a headache. These are signs of hypertension. 
  • Depression. 
  • Itching, hives, swelling of part of your body, and difficulty breathing. These point to an allergic reaction. 
  • Sharp chest pain, coughing up blood. These point to a blood clot in the lung.
  • Vision loss. 
  • A severe headache, confusion, and difficulty walking. These can point to a stroke. 
  • Yellowing skin and eyes, vomiting, loss of appetite, dark urine. These point to liver problems.

The Bottom Line

Any time you notice unusual symptoms while taking a prescription drug, it's always best to let your doctor know. Any time you experience worrying symptoms that scare you, a trip to the emergency department is more than warranted.

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