The Effect of Birth Control Pills in Treating Acne

The very old bond between birth control pills and acne remedy is widely known and used all over the world. The pills, also known as oral contraceptives, are extensively used by young women, in an attempt to kill two birds with one stone, as a strong preventive measure against pregnancy and acne simultaneously.

Often it is found that the stubborn cases of moderate or severe acne that fail to respond to available over-the-counter products or medications, could be cured successfully by these pills.

How Do The Oral Contraceptives Prevent Acne?

In the process of preventing pregnancy, the pills directly control and adjust the hormonal levels in female body. Acne outbreaks are mostly caused by an excess secretion of male hormones or androgen, present both in male and female body. Testosterone, a hormone under the group of androgens, is responsible for inducing the sebaceous glands to secrete sebum or body oil.

However, in female body, the level of androgen rises and falls in conjunction with menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, all contraceptive pills are not equipped with the proficiency of treating acne. A certain type of birth control pills is able to control the level of androgen in female body, thereby reducing the sebum production and minimizing the risk of acne formation. Therefore, it is essential to know what categories of contraceptive pills are available in the market and out of them which are recognized as effective measures for acne remedy.

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Birth Control PillsThe pills contain female hormones progestin and estrogen in synthetic forms. These contraceptives generally come in two forms, one is called “progestin only pills” and the other is called “combination pills.” Unlike POPs, the combination pills contain progestin and estrogen both.

Estrogens are found in the form of ethinyl estradiol and mestranol. These are the synthetic forms of estrogen, widely known for its capacity to diminish the level of LH or luteinizing hormone and boost up SHBG or sex hormone binding globulin.

This impact is sufficient to lower the level of testosterone – a kind of male hormone or androgen, present in female body which stimulates the oil glands to discharge sebum. Thus birth control pills play an indirect yet vital role in acne prevention through the process of reducing androgen. And due to this reason the combination pills are highly recommended as well as consumed as a good preventive measure against acne.

Many mild acne affected women look for some suitable medication which would be suitable for her acne and at the same time won’t influence her family planning techniques. Contraceptive pills could serve both purposes efficiently in such cases.

For moderate to severe acne cases often physicians prescribe birth control pills along with some appropriate topical OTC preparations.

Women having severe acne symptoms are frequently advised to take oral retinoid isotretinoin as principal medication. These medications could prove to be extremely harmful for pregnant women. In such cases contraceptive pills work like a magic to ensure negative pregnancy.

FDA Approved Birth Control Pills for Acne Prevention

The first FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved low-dose contraceptive pill effective for acne prevention is ortho tri-cyclen. Others are estrostep and YAZ. There might be other equivalent pills which could be effective in the same way against birth control, but there had not been any well approved clinical studies on them.

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Cautions and Side Effects of Birth control pills

It is commonly found that the combination pills have associations with high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and nutritional deficiency. Birth control pills are liable for major side effects like trouble in blood sugar and metabolic disturbances. Possibilities of hypoglycemia, gall stone, liver tumor, and osteoporosis also cannot be ruled out. Besides, risk of minor side effects like unwanted hair growth or loss, migraines, nausea, fungal infection, breast deformation, emotional disturbances, skin discoloration, and several other consequences could arise.


There are various other alternatives of birth control pills which also work on the same principle that is by reducing the level of androgen balance. A good example of such an alternative is natural progesterone cream. However, there is a rule of applying natural progesterone creams which must be followed strictly.

It can be started only after menstruation is finished, that is, generally on the eighth day of the menstrual cycle and increased on the last week of the same cycle.

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