Using Birth Control for Acne Treatment-Good or Bad

A young woman looking at birth control pills with suspicion.

Acne affects millions of people around the world, sometimes for short periods of times and sometimes for entire lifetimes.

Beyond causing minor to severe physical discomfort, acne can permanently scar the skin and lead to a host of problems for the sufferer, both in terms of health and social interaction.

Many people are very embarrassed of their acne, causing it to impact their relationships and lifestyle. A common cure for women with recurrent and/or severe acne is birth control.

Birth control is an effective treatment for acne when the source of the problem is excessive oil secretion due to a hormonal change or imbalance – the most common cause of acne.

What Usually Causes Acne?

Acne is usually triggered by an excess of sebum, oil secreted by the skin glands. The amount of sebum produced by your skin is highly dependent on your hormones and often changes in sync with your body’s hormonal levels.

High levels of sebum will clog the pores in your skin, causing a buildup of oil and creating the perfect environment for bacteria to breed and cause your acne breakouts.

- birth control pills

Why Is Hormonal Birth Control an Effective Solution for Acne?

Oral birth control prevents pregnancy by changing the balance of hormones in a woman’s body to trick it into thinking the woman is already pregnant, making further implantation of a fertilized egg impossible.

Oral birth control that decreases the hormone androgen, increasing levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone instead, is the most effective against acne as an excess of androgen hormones is usually what causes an increase in sebum secretion.

Using birth control to combat your acne will only work if your acne is being caused by an excess of androgen hormones. The best way to understand if this is what is causing your acne is to monitor your breakouts over a course of four months. If the worst acne appears before or after your period or during ovulation, than there is a good chance it is being influenced by your hormone levels.

What Type of Oral Birth Control Combats Acne?

There are three popular brands of oral contraceptive that are proven to reduce acne. These products all include a mix of estrogen and some form of progesterone, possibly in its manmade form of progestin, norgestimate, or norethindrone.

It is important that whatever oral contraceptive you use to combat acne includes both estrogen and some form of progesterone, as pills that only contain progesterone can actually cause an increase in oil production and thus a worsening of your acne.

How Can You Use Birth Control to Reduce Acne?

Using hormonal contraceptives as a treatment for acne is only recommended for women that have already begun having their period regularly and are over fifteen years old.

Many physicians recommend pairing oral birth control with a topical cream to directly treat any existing acne and help prevent further problems. The effects of birth control on your acne may take a few months, so patience is necessary.

Birth contro lpills wrapped in their instructions and informational papers.

What Health Risks Are Associated With Taking Hormonal Birth Control?

Like any medical treatment, using birth control for acne treatment may cause some side effects. Major side effects and risks include:

  • Stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attack
  • Hypertension
  • Headaches

Because of these potential side effects, there are certain categories of women who should avoid using birth control pills. Consult your doctor before starting any oral contraceptive to prevent any foreseeable problems.

It is not advised to take hormonal contraception if you:

  • Are suffering from any type of blood clotting disorder
  • Have a history of hypertension, heart disease, or blood clots in your family
  • Are suffering from diabetes, liver disease, or chronic headaches
  • Have a history of breast, liver, or uterine cancer
  • Are currently pregnant
  • Are suffering from obesity
  • Are a smoker (leading to an increased likelihood for blood clots and strokes)

Sometimes, a simple red flush on your neck can indicate that your body is not tolerating oral contraception well, so pay attention to your body and stop treatment if you fear that you are suffering from problematic side effects. Maintaining a regular schedule with your oral contraception should help minimize risk and help you understand how your body is reacting to the treatment.

Remember that other medications can interfere with the efficacy of oral contraceptives (and vice versa), so make sure to talk to your doctor about any other medications you are taking before beginning treatment.

In addition, do not be alarmed if your acne resurfaces after you stop taking oral contraception. This is a natural reaction of your body to shifting hormone levels and should only be temporary.

A woman looking at a birth control pills on a table with uncertainty.

What Are Some Natural Acne Treatments for Curing Acne?

If you are not suffering from severe acne, it may be a good idea to try out a few homeopathic remedies before beginning a strict regimen of birth control.

For example, you can try using the tried and true homemade cure of apple cider vinegar, known to balance your skin’s pH level and cure mild acne and skin irritation problems.

Vitamin K supplements have also been known to calm inflamed skin and help your body absorb all kinds of important nutrients.

In Conclusion

There is no reason for you to continue suffering from painful and unsightly acne. Try out some of these natural cures and consult your doctor about using hormonal birth control for acne in tandem with a topical cream to get rid of your acne permanently.

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