How Do Antiprogestins Work?

Reviewed on 12/27/2021

How do antiprogestins work?

Antiprogestins are medications administered to terminate intrauterine pregnancy in its early phase, up to 10 weeks of gestation. Antiprogestins are also used to manage and treat high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) in people with Cushing’s syndrome, a disorder that leads to excessive levels of cortisol, a natural steroid hormone.

Antiprogestins are synthetic steroids that work in the following ways:

  • Block the activity of progesterone, a natural hormone that prepares the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus, for implantation and continuation of pregnancy.
  • Increase the concentration of prostaglandin, a natural compound in the body that promotes contraction of the uterine muscle wall (myometrium), which results in menstrual bleeding and termination of pregnancy.
  • Block cortisol from binding to its glucocorticoid receptors, mitigating hyperglycemia caused by excess cortisol levels. Antiprogestins, however, do not reduce cortisol levels.

How are antiprogestins used?

Antiprogestins are administered orally as tablets, and are approved by the FDA for use in the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy termination up to 10 weeks of gestation, in combination with misoprostol, a drug that induces uterus contraction. Antiprogestin is typically administered as a single dose followed by misoprostol 24-48 hours later.
  • Management and treatment of hyperglycemia secondary to hypercortisolism in adults with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome who have type 2 diabetes mellitus or glucose intolerance and have failed surgery or cannot have surgery.
  • Ovarian cancer (orphan designation)

What are side effects of antiprogestins?

Side effects of antiprogestins may include the following:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with travel medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What are names of antiprogestin drugs?

Generic and brand names of antiprogestin drugs include:


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