Reviewed: May 24, 2021
Norgestimate is a third-generation synthetic progestin used exclusively in the combined pill along with ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic oestrogen. While it’s rarely seen without its partner in crime, it is used alone as a hormone therapy for menopausal women in some countries.

How does it work?

Norgestimate in combination with oestrogen in the combined pill works by stopping ovulation and thinning the lining of the womb so a fertilised egg can’t implant into it.1 Progestins in combined contraceptive pills can also make your cervical fluid thicker, stopping sperm from being able to enter your uterus.

What is it used in?

Combined Pill

Is it androgenic?

Yes, weakly. (Check out our ‘Androgens’ blog for more info on what this means).

What are the side effects?

As norgestimate is almost always taken with ethinyl estradiol in the combined pill, it’s virtually impossible to say which side effects it may cause on its own. The following side effects are common with the combined pill 2:
  • Breast tenderness or enlargement
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Mood changes


  1. Phillips A, Hahn DW and McGuire JL. Preclinical evaluation of norgestimate, a progestin with minimal androgenic activity. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1992. 167(4 Pt 2):1191-1196. Available from: doi:10.1016/s0002-9378(12)90410-x
  2. Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary (online) London: BMJ Group and Pharmaceutical Press <> [Accessed on 13 August 2020]

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