Nowadays, there are countless acne medications within our reach, which are not only effective in erasing these traumatic blemishes but also useful in filling up several bodily nutritional requirements, as well as healing up other ailments caused by hormonal dysfunction. Birth control pills or contraceptive pills are one such kind of medications which are most frequently used by women around the world to prevent pregnancy. But, for decades some contraceptive pills off-label are widely prescribed by physicians to alleviate female acne lesions as well. Till today FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved a number of contraceptive pills as acne medications. These include ortho-tri-cyclen, YAZ, and estrostep. In most of the cases contraceptive pills are prescnbed alongside some suitable topical acne treatments to get the optimum output.
Why do Physicians Prefer to Use Birth Control Pills for Acne Prevention?
It is a well-known fact that acne flare-ups are the result of excess exudation of sebum or body oil by sebaceous glands under influence of androgen hormones. In women, androgen serum level goes on top just before their menstruation cycle. Especially in case of teenage girls, androgen level often happens to rise out of whack. This hormonal imbalance sets off acne explosion over the cheek and other parts of the body. A slew of birth control pills mainly work on minimizing the androgen production in female body. Contraceptive pills are prepared by combining two synthetic hormones – estrogen and progestin.
Estrogen works in two ways in female body. It affects the luteinizing hormones (LHs) by diminishing their amount and simultaneously it augments the level of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). All these changes work on the same line to slack off the testosterone in the blood, which in turn brings down the drive of sebaceous glands that is the causative factor in acne formation.
Progestins are known for their androgenic (behaving like male hormones) and antiandrogenic (calling a halt to the androgen production by scavenging androgen receptors) properties. A few progestins even behave like estrogens. These diverse natures of activity could easily help to prevent acne, nonetheless, these could give rise to severe side effects as well. Those progestins with antiandrogenic characteristics could be regarded as the best constituents for birth control pills which could act as acne buster too.
For many women who are looking for medications for mild acne condition and some suitable method for contraception as well, these contraceptive pills could be the ideal choice, since they kill two birds with one stone. For treating moderate to severe acne, it would be best to use these pills along with some topical therapy.
Acne is a common symptom for women who are suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Birth control pills are the most common form of treatment for PCOS which not only helps to reduce the level of testosterone but also removes the acne lesions and hirsutism.
For severe acne symptoms, often doctors prescribe common oral retinoid isotretinoin, which is an immensely potential drug for acne and strictly a no-no for pregnant women. In such an instance contraceptive pills play a key role in preventing pregnancy during on going isotretinoin medication.
Acne birth control pills are liable to generate several side effects ranging from major to minor. Most commonly reported major side effects of birth control pill are troubles in the metabolism of blood sugar which might result in diabetes or hypoglycemia and associated risk of blood clot. Problems in the gall bladder, formation of gall stones, liver cysts etc. also cannot be ruled out. Instances of stroke, ectopic pregnancy, speeding up of the development of already existing cancerous tissues and even osteoporosis etc. are quite possible to happen.
A few minor side effects like allergic reactions, and deteriorated immunity system are quite likely to happen. Abnormal facial hair growth and unusual hair loss, migraines, nausea, disfigured breast, fungal infection etc are also not very uncommon. Many instances of psychological impacts like mood swings, depression and emotional problems are found. Skin discoloration, vitamin concentration, urinary infection etc are not rare.
In order to avoid these side effects many physicians opt for alternatives of birth control pills. These alternatives are able to work on the same principle just like contraceptives that is by reducing the impact of androgens on sebaceous glands. One of such alternatives is natural progesterone cream which is very much popular among female acne suffers.