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Acne & Spotting on Birth Control

Acne & Spotting on Birth Control Acne & Spotting on Birth Control


Birth control pills are an oral contraceptive referred to as BC, BC pills or the pill. While some birth control pills worsen acne, some help acne. There are other methods of birth control, such as the shot, patch and devices such as an IUD. Different types of birth control carry various side effects, so always read the prescription inserts or consult with a physician.

Types of Birth Control that Treat Acne

As of 2010, there are three birth control pills on the market that have been approved by the FDA to treat acne. These are Yasmin--or Yaz for short; Estrostep and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. These pills help treat acne by reducing the amount of oil produced by hair and skin. Even though these birth control pills help treat acne, some women may still need to use a medicated acne solution such as facial wash or creams. Women may need to take these birth control pills for a period of time before a noticeable reduction of acne occurs.

Types of Birth Control that Worsen Acne

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some birth control methods are known to cause acne. This is not just limited to the pill, it also includes the shot. The shot--Depo-Provera--is a birth control injection taken once every 12 weeks. The FDA has reported acne associated with Nordette, Depo-Provera and Femcon Chewable Tablets. While these birth control prescriptions list increased acne as a side effect, it does not necessarily mean a woman taking this contraceptive will have acne problems.

Types of Birth Control that Have No Known Effect on Acne

Quite a few birth control methods have no known effect on acne. According to the FDA, some claims of affecting acne have not been formally investigated or there is not sufficient evidence to support these claims. This includes birth control pills and the patch. The official name of the patch is Ortho Evra. Other oral contraceptives that have no known effect on acne include Seasonique, Ortho Novum and Loestrin.

Side Effects of Birth Control

The FDA has recognized known side effects of birth control. Side effects include headache, nausea, blurred vision, problems related to contact lenses, tingling or numbness in extremities, paralysis on one side of the body, pulmonary embolisms, heart attack and stroke. Women who smoke and are over the age of 35 should either quit smoking or discontinue use of oral contraceptives. As women age and smoke, the risk of blood clotting is much more severe than that of women who do not smoke. Heavy smokers are at risk of blood clotting; heavy smoking is 15 or more cigarettes per day. There have been reports of jaundice, hepatic tumors and brain hemorrhages reported with use of oral contraceptives. Women should not take certain oral contraceptives if they are pregnant, nursing or think they are pregnant.

Why Women Spot on Birth Control

Spotting is also known as breakthrough bleeding. It can be completely normal for women to spot between menstrual cycles for the first few months of taking an oral contraceptive or even switching to a new oral contraceptive. This is often caused by a dramatic hormonal change. Should spotting continue after six months, a woman should consult her physician, assuming she is taking the pill correctly and continuously. Take birth control pills at the exact same time every day; otherwise there may be a decrease in hormones, causing the uterus to shed its lining. If the woman is taking them faithfully every day on time and still experiencing spotting, her doctor may need to switch her to a lower dose birth control pill. Sometimes when a woman's body gets too many hormones, it can interfere with her menstrual cycle.

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