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Birth Control & Improved Acne

Birth Control & Improved Acne Birth Control & Improved Acne


Women who have hormonally influenced acne often find relief with birth control pills when other acne treatments fail to help. When hormones cause the oil glands to enlarge and make too much oil, your pores can become blocked with accumulating dirt and bacteria. Birth control pills can help women who have fluctuating hormones, premenstrual acne flares and excessive androgen production. They can be used alone or in conjunction with other medications.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills for acne work by reducing the amount of sebum, an oily substance that lubricates your skin. Dead skin cells build up in your pore's hair follicle and block your pores. Birth control pills are usually used with additional acne treatments, such as medicated creams containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

According to the Mayo Clinic, three types of birth control have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat acne in women: ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate, ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone, and ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone.

Most women need to take birth control pills for several months before noticing any results. Also, your skin may get worse before it gets better.

Improving Acne

According to the Nemours Foundation, birth control pill can help stabilize fluctuating hormones that can cause acne. Changes in hormones levels can cause the oil glands under your skin to enlarge and make too much oil. By keeping those hormones under control, acne can be controlled.

The National Women's Health Information Center reports that birth control pills can help women who have acne break outs around their menstrual cycle. The birth control pills help clear acne by slowing down oil glands.

Women with hormonal acne can also benefits by the reduced androgen produced by their ovaries according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Androgen stimulates the skin's oil glands, so reduced androgen results in reduced oil production.

Additional Benefits

Planned Parenthood outlines a number of additional birth control pill benefits. The pill can reduce menstrual cramps and make periods lighter and shorter. Some forms of birth control pills can also prevent ectopic pregnancy, endometrial and ovarian cancer, and ovarian cysts.

Side Effects

According to the National Women's Health Information Center, side effects can include irregular menstruation, breast tenderness, fatigue, and headaches. Additional side effects identified by the Mayo clinic include decreased sex drive, depression, and nausea and vomiting.


Risks identified by the Mayo Clinic include an increased risk of blood clots, high blood pressure, heart disease, and high potassium. There are also potential fetal problems if you take birth control pills while pregnant.

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