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One of the most raging concerns among young women is whether birth control pills cause acne or not.
Acne is a skin condition when the skin pores become clogged with excessive oil, bacteria, dead skin, and dirt. When this happens, you get the dreaded pimples, but sometimes acne can also take the form of whiteheads or blackheads.
Acne is influenced by the body’s hormone levels, so anything that affects the hormones also affects acne. Acne is common in all gender and ages but mostly affects teenagers and women.
Birth control pills, also known as oral contraceptive pills (OCPs), are hormonal contraceptives taken orally by women. They contain two hormones; estrogen and progesterone. These hormones work together to prevent pregnancy in a few ways:
- They stop the ovaries from releasing eggs.
- They thicken the mucus around the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus.
- They cause the uterus lining to become thinner, making it less likely that an egg will be implanted.
Can Birth Control Pills Cause Acne?
In addition, birth control pills can also change the balance of bacteria on the skin, contributing to acne.
However, not all women who take birth control pills experience acne. Some women find that their acne improves with this medication as it helps regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce stress levels, a significant contributor to acne.
Hormonal Imbalance and Acne
Birth control pills cause acne by influencing the levels of androgens in the body. Androgens are naturally male sex hormones but are also found in small amounts in women, produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands.
Androgens mainly produce sebum – an oil that naturally covers and protects the skin. However, too much androgen can cause excessive sebum production causing acne.
Other side effects of androgen imbalance include:
- Extra facial hair in women
- Excessive hair on the body
- Menstrual irregularities
- Hot flashes
Some people may experience clearer skin when using birth control but get acne when they stop them. This is because of androgen rebound as the body tries to recalibrate the hormone levels.
It is difficult to predict their effect so experts recommend working with a doctor to determine if birth control pills are safe for you or not.
Read More: 15 Best Foods to Boost Estrogen
Types of Birth Control Pills for Acne Treatment
The FDA has approved some birth control pills containing estrogen and progesterone for controlling acne. Birth control pills are not the first medicines prescribed for controlling acne, but they are useful in those patients who already need birth control and acne treatment.
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen is a combination of estrogen and norgestimate.
- Estrostepuses have estrogen combined with a progestin called norethindrone.
- YAZ uses estrogen and drospirenone.
We strongly suggest discussing with your doctor the pros and cons of these pills before you take them to treat your acne.
Benefits of Using Birth Control Pills
Using birth control can have numerous advantages for women, such as:
- Regulating menstruation
- Reducing cramps and heavy bleeding
- Making periods lighter and shorter
- Reducing the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer
- Reducing the risk of acne
- Making it easier to control endometriosis
Read More: 14 Alarming Causes of Ovarian Cancer
Risks of Using Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are a safe and effective form of contraception for most women. However, there are some risks of using oral contraceptive pills, including a high risk of:
- Blood clots
- Heart attack symptoms
- Liver disease
- Weight gain
How to Treat Acne at Home
Birth control pills cause acne or make it worse. You can also try to reduce your risk of acne by following good skin care practices mentioned below.
- Switch to a non-hormonal form of birth control.
- Use a gentle face wash, especially one with salicylic acid.
- Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
- Wash your face after exercising or coming from outside to remove dirt.
- Avoid touching your face throughout the day.
- Use oil-free makeup and cosmetics.
- Exfoliate your skin regularly.
- See a dermatologist if your acne is severe or does not respond to home treatment.
Some women report that birth control pills cause acne while others report that it actually helps in treating acne. It is difficult to be sure of how birth control pills might affect you before actually starting them. Discuss with your doctor the advantages and disadvantages of contraceptives before starting them, especially if you are concerned about acne as a side effect, or if you want to treat your existing acne along with getting effective contraception.