Hysterectomy Alternatives Program (HAlt)
Danazol® is a pituitary gonadotropin inhibitor. This means it suppresses the hormone levels that are responsible for ovulation and menstruation. Danazol® alters the endometrium so that it becomes inactive and atrophic (it becomes thinner).
Generally, the effects of this drug are expected after 30 days of treatment. Eventually, (after 3-6 months of continuous treatment) patients will stop ovulating (producing an egg) and stop menstruating. The action of Danazol® on hormonal regulation is reversible and normal menstrual patterns return within 2 months following discontinuation. Since Danazol® is a male hormone derivative, androgenic (having masculine characteristics) side effects are possible. These are usually only seen in doses of 400-800mg/day.
The lowest dose of 200mg daily, which is indicated for treatment of heavy bleeding, has clinically demonstrated a significantly lower incidence of side effects. Common side effects include acne, swelling (water retention), unnatural hair growth, decrease in breast size, deepening of the voice, oily skin and hair, weight gain, change in sex drive (increased or decreased). Other occasional side effects are vaginitis (inflammation or irritation of the vaginal tissues), headache, flushing, nervousness or irritability. Very rare side effects are seldom seen at such low doses of Danazol® but include jaundice, pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas), thromboembolism (blood clot), and enlargement of the clitoris.
In some cases, an even lower dose of 50-100mg will result in an improvement in symptoms without the unwanted side effects.
Danazol® should not be administered to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or patients with impaired hepatic (liver), renal (kidney), or cardiac function.
It is important for women receiving Danazol® to attend regular follow up appointments to evaluate side effects, if any. Unwanted side effects can be managed by an experienced physician.