Cyproterone acetate is a steroid that acts as an anti-androgen in the body. It binds to androgen receptors to suppress the actions of hormones like testosterone. This steroid can be produced synthetically in laboratory environments and it is included in a variety of medications designed to treat medical conditions related to testosterone production and function. It is available by prescription only and this medication should be shared with people other than the patient it was prescribed for.
One use of cyproterone acetate is in the treatment of skin conditions related to testosterone levels in women such as hirsutism and acne. This medication can be used to suppress the action of testosterone to resolve these conditions. In men, testosterone suppression can lead to issues like gynecomastia and decreased sex drive, so this medication is not recommended for the treatment of dermatological problems.
It can also be used in the treatment of prostate cancer, as this cancer is sensitive to testosterone, and in priapism, a painful condition experienced by some men. Because it suppresses testosterone, cyproterone acetate may also be prescribed for male to female transsexuals as part of their hormone therapy, with the goal of changing the balance of hormones in the body to bring out secondary sex characteristics associated with women while suppressing male secondary sex characteristics. This compound is also included in some types of hormonal birth control.
Risks associated with cyproterone acetate include liver damage and mood changes. As with other medications that interfere with the function of hormones in the body, this medication comes with an adjustment period and patients can respond to it very differently. It is important to taper the medication when going off it, as abruptly quitting can be associated with medical complications for the patient. Since cyproterone acetate is often used in the treatment of chronic conditions like hirsutism, many patients expect to take it for life.
Whether this steroid is prescribed alone or with other medications, it is advisable for patients to receive a full consultation from their doctors at the time of the prescription. Patients may want to ask why it is being prescribed, how to use it, if there are any alternative treatments available, and what the risks are. If special precautions such as monitoring of liver enzyme levels are needed, the patient should ask how these precautions will be observed and if there are any side effects that should be carefully watched for.