Side Effects Of This Treatment
The reason that birth control is not our favorite method of treating acne is two-fold. First, it doesnt help everyone and when it does work, it doesnt always give you completely clear skin. The second reason is the side-effects from taking birth control pills.
The obvious side effect, which makes it very impractical to use this treatment, is for women that want to get pregnant. Even if you dont want to get pregnant right now, as weve seen above, getting off the Pill later on will bring the acne back for many women. So its not really the best long-term solution for many people.
The other side effects are a little more serious and have been well documented. These include:
- weight gain
Its also worth noting that these side effects increase with age. Make sure you talk about the risks with your doctor before taking any medication.
The other factor which makes us dislike this treatment are the costs. Depending on where you live, and your insurance, youll have to refill prescription, which involve a doctor visit on top of paying for the medication itself. So its a relatively expensive method.
Which Contraceptive Is Right For You
To find the contraceptive that is right for you, share any concerns about potential side effects with your health care provider and dermatologist. They will be able to answer your questions and determine which contraceptive is best for you.
If you are strictly looking for a hormonal regimen for your acne, then perhaps a trial of spironolactone may be the choice. However, if you want the combined benefit of contraception , menstrual cycle regulation, and acne control then the birth control pill may be right for you. For acne, Dr. Zenovia recommends a combined oral contraceptive like YAZ because it has a low dose of progesterone and an anti-androgenic progesterone.
If you are experiencing any unwanted side effects from your birth control, be sure to bring those issues up to your doctor. Common side effects include nausea, acne, weight gain, bloating, and breast tenderness.
Remember, hormones are tricky and everyone’s body handles contraceptives differently. Two people on the same contraceptive can have totally different experiences! It may take a couple of tries and communication with your health care provider to find one with the right balance. There are many to try so it may take 3-6 months to figure out the best option for you. Hormones are delicate yet powerful messengers and the downstream effects on your skin can take a while to appreciate.
Takeaways: The Birth Control Ring
The Annovera ring and the NuvaRing are pretty cool methods of birth control:
They are flexible plastic rings that are squishy and should be comfortable to use.
Youd insert the ring into the vagina and remove the ring yourself, saving you a bunch of trips to the doctor since they need to be removed and reinserted each month.
In the case of Annovera, its reusable and lasts for an entire year. The NuvaRing would need to be replaced each month.
The ring gradually releases the same hormones like the birth control pill into your body, preventing pregnancy at a rate of 91% with typical use.
Neither ring requires refrigeration.
Its been said that the contraceptive ring is a global step forward. Especially in places with fewer resources globally, having a woman-controlled contraceptive method that can last a whole year without refrigeration is pretty amazing. And its also pretty useful during a global pandemic when its harder to go into a doctors office or pharmacy every month to pick up birth control pills. Whatever birth control method you choose, just know that its your choice, and knowing the facts will help you make the right decision.
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Types Of Combined Contraceptives
- The pill- Combination birth control pills can affect the skin by decreasing the androgenic effect in our tissue and ultimately reducing the production of sebum and acne. Studies on the combination pill have found that it is effective in treating both noninflammatory and inflammatory acne. Research is lacking in terms of how different types of the pill perform in comparison to each other . However, pills with low progestin, anti-androgenic progestins are best for treating acne compared to pills with androgenic progestins. Dr. Zenovia recommends the drospirenone-containing combined contraceptives to her patients, like YAZ. To see an improvement in acne, it may take up to 2-3 months on the pill. This is because hormones need time to regulate and normalize in our system.
- The patch- There is inconclusive data on how this contraceptive affects the skin. Some studies report an improvement in acne, while others report no improvement.
- The ring- There is also limited research on the ring in terms of acne outcomes.
Five Steps If You’re Considering Taking Birth Control Pills For Treatment
Recommended Reading: How To Extract Cystic Acne
What About When I Want To Come Off The Pill
Most women wont stay on the pill forever. Some may come off the pill to have children or take a break from synthetic hormones while using other contraceptive methods in the meantime. So what happens when you stop taking the pill?
Its important to remember that birth control is not a cure for acne, but rather a temporary treatment. As long as youre taking the pill and introducing the right combination of hormones into your body, youre likely to see an improvement in your acne.
But once you stop taking the pill, the acne is likely to come back. Post-pill acne can often be worse than pre-pill acne and even harder to get rid of.
Let me repeat myself since many women are not aware of this before starting the pill. Many women find that post-pill acne is worse and much more difficult to fix than the acne they had before starting the pill.
When stopping the pill, your hormones will take some time to normalize. Your hormones could take several months before returning to their pre-pill levels, during which your skin can be prone to breakouts.
I asked some members of the Clear For Life Facebook group to share their experiences after stopping the pill. Click on the left and right arrows to browse through what they have shared.
Pills Approved For Acne
There are four brands of oral contraceptives that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of acne. All of these pills are combination drugs that contain both progestin and estrogen. The progestin-only pill has not been proven effective against acne.
FDA-approved birth control pills for acne include:
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How Birth Control Can Change Your Skin
Here in the beauty department, we’ve already told you about one particular pill that could help with your acne. You know it as Accutane, and while it certainly works for most who try it, it’s a pretty major and serious commitment.
But there’s another pill you can take that’s a lot less medically controversial. Yes, you guessed it: birth control. Going on “the pill,” as it’s called, can totally change your skin by regulating your hormones, which is crucial for young women who are still developing, or whose bodies are still adjusting from their very first period.
“The pill contains the same hormones that your body makes, called estrogen and progestin, just in different amounts, so it can override your body’s signals to release an egg . Consequently, it also lowers your body’s testosterone level, which in turn can reduce acne,” says Dr. Jennifer Ashton, OB-GYN and senior medical contributor for Good Morning America.
Testosterone is the male hormone that, as we know by now, increases our oil production. And as celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau explains, “oils breed bacteria, and bacteria leads to breakouts.” So the theory is, if testosterone goes down, so does acne.
Potential Side Effects Of Taking Birth Control For Acne
Side effects of taking birth control pills for acne are the same as those of someone who takes the pill for contraception or any other indication. The most common short-term side effects of birth control are nausea, breast tenderness, and bloating. You may also experience longer-term mood changes and changes in libido. You should speak with your doctor about whether you’re a good candidate for this medication given your medical history and to get more information about other possible side effects.
“If a person has a history of a blood clotting disorder, is a smoker, or suffers from migraine headaches, they are not good candidates for a birth control pill,” warns Birmingham-based dermatologist , MD.
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How To Tell If You Have Hormonal Acne
Asking your doctor for blood tests is a possibility but the easiest way to tell if hormones are to blame is to note when your acne flares up most. Look out for these signs:
- Women: breakouts a week before menstruation
- Breakouts after eating sugary or refined carbohydrates
- Women may have hormonal acne related to a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome , but this can only be diagnosed by a doctor
- Puberty is associated with hormonal shifts and often, acne
- Random breakouts without any of the above may also indicate that acne is hormone-related
Can Birth Control Pills Really Get Rid Of Acne
You probably have a friend or two who was prescribed birth control by their OB-GYNbut for reasons totally unrelated to birth control. They probably excitedly confided in you about how clear their skin has gotten, or how theyre not as oily as before. And that made you wonder: can the Pill really help control acne?
A post shared by Caia on Oct 22, 2020 at 8:33pm PDT
Well, we come bearing very good news. Combined oral contraceptive pills are often used in the treatment of acne in females. They are effective, safe, and easy to use in appropriate patients in combination with more conventional acne therapies, says a 2010 study on the efficacy of birth control for acne.
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Does Birth Control Help Cystic Acne
Yes! Birth control is a great treatment option if you are looking to eliminate cystic acne. Cystic acne occurs when the hair follicles get clogged with sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria, forming an acne cyst under the skin. The infected cyst can become red, swollen, and very painful. The cysts can also contain pus and should not be popped, for the risk that the pus could spread the infection. It is imperative to consult a dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, to receive treatment for cystic acne in order to prevent scarring. Combination hormonal birth control pills work to combat all kinds of acne cystic acne included.
How Does Birth Control Help To Treat Acne
A common cause of acne, especially present among teens, is an imbalance of androgens, a type of hormone found in both men and women, but some people may produce it in higher amounts. One side effect of this overproduction is an increase in sebum, a type of oil that your skin naturally produces. Excess sebum can clog pores which leads to acne.
Birth control, however, can help to regulate hormones, reducing androgen production and thereby decreasing the amount of sebum production, and acne as a result.
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Overview Of Birth Control Options
There are two major factors to consider when evaluating your birth control options:
The first is the type of hormone they contain. All birth control methods contain either progestin-only or BOTH progestin and estrogen. Progestin is a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone, and estrogen is a counterregulatory hormone of testosterone, as mentioned above.
The second way to categorize birth control options is by delivery method. The most common methods include:
- Pill a daily dose of hormones taken by mouth. There are dozens of different brands and types, delivering different amounts of hormones to prevent ovulation. Popular brands include Yaz, Diane-35 and Valette.
- Implant a tiny rod inserted into your arm, where it releases hormones into your body. This method can last up to four years.
- Patch worn on the stomach, upper arm, or back. This thin patch also releases hormones into your body and must be replaced weekly for three weeks, with one week off before your monthly cycle begins again.
- Shot also known as Depo-Provera. A new shot must be given every three months.
- Vaginal ring commonly known as the NuvaRing. This hormone-releasing ring sits inside the vagina and must be replaced every month.
- Intrauterine device also known as the IUD. This can come in two types: a non-hormonal copper IUD which can last for up to twelve years, and a hormonal IUD which can last between three and six years.
Soare Some Birth Control Options More Effective Than Others
Yes to that, too. To really reap the acne-fighting benefits, you need to be on a combination form of birth controlthat means intrauterine devices and progesterone-only pills won’t work. Its the estrogen, specifically, in birth control that does the work of leveling out those oil-producing androgens.
Masterson says the Pill is usually prescribed first for acne, but its not your only option: Implants, patches and vaginal rings all have both estrogen and progesterone and might be just as effective as the pill.
Masterson notes that its important to inform your doctor of your full medical history before getting on birth control for any reason if you have a history of blood clots or certain kinds of migraines, you likely wont be a candidate for hormonal birth controlat all.
Another thing: Really bad acne flares can be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome , a hormonal disorder which can cause excessive hair growth, irregular periods, and fertility issues, says Mastersonso birth control might not be enough in those situations .
Recommended Reading: How Do I Heal Acne Scars
How Long Until Acne Clears After Stopping Taking Birth Control
As mentioned before, it takes several months for your hormones to normalize after coming off the pill. However, every womans body is different, so its hard to make a blanket statement to predict your acne patterns upon stopping birth control pills.
It will generally take at least 3-4 cycles for post-pill acne to resolve. Doctors also recommend using preventative measures before you come off the pill to suppress some of the effects of post-pill acne.
Which Birth Control Helps Acne
Only 4 types of oral contraceptives have been approved by The Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of acne. All 3 of these types of birth control have estrogen in the form of ethinyl estradiol and have multiple studies conducted over the span of 6 period cycles which show a reduction in inflammation and acne in study participants .
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Types Of Birth Control To Treat Acne In Women
The last decade has seen an explosion in new types of birth control. But so far, only three types of birth control pills have been approved by the FDA for treating acne. All three are “combination” oral contraceptives that contain both estrogen and progesterone. In fact, birth control pills that contain only progesterone can actually make acne worse.
Each type of birth control pill used for acne contains a low dose of the same form of estrogen. But each one uses a different form of progesterone.
The FDA has approved the following types of birth control for acne:
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen uses estrogen combined with a progestin called norgestimate. A progestin is a synthetic, or manmade, form of progesterone. The pill is available with different doses of progestin.
- Estrostepuses estrogen combined with a progestin called norethindrone. The pill is available with different doses of estrogen.
- YAZ uses estrogen combined with a manmade form of progestin called drospirenone. The FDA has concluded that birth control pills containing drospirenone may have increased risk for blood clots compared to pills containing other progestins. Other brands containing drospirenone include Beyaz, Gianvi, Loryna, Ocella, Safyral, Syeda, Yasmin, and Zarah.
Studies have not shown a major difference among these three pills in terms of how well they treat acne.
What Are The Different Types Of Birth Control
There are many different types of birth control available that are effective at preventing pregnancy and some are also very effective in treating and preventing acne outbreaks. The kinds of birth control available include:
- Combination birth control pills
- The patch
- Implants such as Nexplanon
- Hormonal IUDs such as Mirena, Liletta, Kyleena, and Skyla
- Copper IUDs
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Does The Shot Help With Cramps Headaches And Acne
The birth control shot is really good at preventing pregnancy. Its 94% effective, meaning only 6 out of 100 people get pregnant each year while using the shot.
The shot can help with certain period problems, like cramps and a heavy flow. Most of the time, the shot makes your periods lighter. Some people stop getting periods altogether while theyre on the shot. So if youre not getting a period, you wont have menstrual cramps.
But the shot doesnt help ease headaches some people may actually get headaches as a side effect of the shot, especially during the first few months as your body adjusts. The shot also doesnt help with acne but other kinds of hormonal birth control that have estrogen in them can help clear up acne.
If you need birth control that helps with cramps, PMS, and other period problems, there are lots of options. Talk with a nurse or doctor, like the ones at Planned Parenthood, to help figure out which types of birth control are right for you. You can also take our birth control quiz to find out which methods might be a good match.
Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. is a registered 501 nonprofit under EIN 13-1644147. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable under the law.