Dienogest is a nortestosterone derivative with no androgenic but rather an antiandrogenic activity of approximately 1/3 of that of cyproterone acetate. Dienogest binds to the progesterone receptor of the human uterus with only 10% of the relative affinity of progesterone. Despite its low affinity to the progesterone receptor, dienogest has a strong progestogenic effect in vivo. Dienogest has no significant androgenic, mineralocorticoid or glucocorticoid activity in vivo.
Dienogest acts on endometriosis by reducing the endogenous production of estradiol and thereby suppressing the trophic effects of estradiol on both the eutopic and ectopic endometrium. When given continuously, dienogest leads to a hypoestrogenic, hypergestagenic endocrine environment causing initial decidualization of endometrial tissue followed by atrophy of endometriotic lesions. Additional properties eg, immunologic and antiangiogenic effects, seem to contribute to the inhibitory action of dienogest on cell proliferation.