For women, acne , especially severe acne , can lead to embarrassment, anxiety , social isolation, and permanent skin scarring. You can see that antibiotics produced strong results after just three months. Birth control pills took a little longer, but after the six-month mark their improvements in both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions were noticeable and comparable to those with antibiotics. Other birth control pills only contain progestin, the synthetic form of progesterone. They’re sometimes referred to as minipills. While estrogen is necessary to counteract the acne-triggering effects of testosterone, regular birth control pills are unfortunately not for everyone.
In general, birth control to treat acne is often advised for healthy women who also need contraception It is typically started after other acne treatments , such as topical creams and oral antibiotics , have failed to clear up the skin. Here is information about the risks and benefits of taking birth control pills for acne. It can help you make an informed decision about what’s right for you. The main functions of the hormones in birth control pills are to halt ovulation, which prevents the release of an egg, and to thicken the mucus surrounding the cervix, which keeps sperm cells from reaching the eggs.
Progesterone-only pills are generally not recommended for acne treatment because they tend to worsen acne. While anti-androgenic progestins (i.e. chlormadinone acetate, cyproterone acetate, dienogest, drospirenone) are more beneficial for acne, there are currently no progestin-only formulations available with these straight from the source progestins. When dealing with acne caused by birth control, check which formulation you are using and see if it is a progesterone-only or androgenic progestin, and inquire with your doctor to see if you can switch to a combination pill on our list (you can refer to the charts above to help you with this process).
So putting all the pieces together, the best birth control for acne overall is one with an ultra-low dose of estrogen and an antiandrogenic progestin such as drospirenone. This puts the ultimate crown on Yaz as the most promising option for many women suffering from hormonal acne. The last decade has seen an explosion in new types of birth control But so far, only three types of birth control pills have been approved by the FDA for treating acne. All three are “combination” oral contraceptives that contain both estrogen and progesterone. In fact, birth control pills that contain only progesterone can actually make acne worse.
If you’re already taking an oral contraceptive that’s working well in treating acne, there’s no need to switch brands. But if you are taking birth control pills for acne for the first time, it’s best to use one of the three types now approved for acne treatment. Ortho Tri-Cyclen uses estrogen combined with a progestin called norgestimate A progestin is a synthetic, or manmade, form of progesterone. The pill is available with different doses of progestin. Currently, there are only three brands of combination birth control pills for acne in women. In fact, doctors do not recommend progestin-only pills for the treatment of acne in women, as hormone pills that lack estrogen can exacerbate acne and make outbreaks worse.
When the pill was first introduced over fifty years ago, 150 mcg of estrogen per pill was standard. These pills are no longer available due to a number of health scares that led to a change in the amount of hormones contained in these products. As science and medicine revolutionized, experts developed pills with less estrogen without compromising their contraceptive effects. This graph click here to find out more may be a bit hard to understand at first glance. The direction of the green bar reflects the effect on acne (right = reducing acne, left = aggravating acne). The abbreviations refer to different types of progestins and EE means estrogen (ethinyl estradiol). As you can see, birth control methods that lack estrogen (Depo-shot, IUD, and implant) produced the least favorable results.
Below is a table of antiandrogenic progestins and their associated brands of birth control. These progestins block androgen receptors, effectively preventing androgen hormones from doing their job. If you suffer from hormonal acne and want to reduce the effects of androgen on your skin, these brands should be your starting point. A paper published in 2014 combines data from 32 quality studies across the globe to examine the effects of birth control pills and antibiotics for acne. The graph below is a summary of the pooled data showing the average reduction in different types of acne after three and six months of treatment with either antibiotics or birth control pills.
If you’re unable to find a suitable birth control pill that meets your needs, your doctor can help you find another treatment option. This is important because another study has proven that the type of progestin matters more than whether the pill is mono or triphasic. This study compared Ortho Tri-Cyclen (a triphasic pill which contains norgestimate) with Yasmin (a monophasic pill which contains drospirenone) and found that Yasmin was slightly more effective. The amount of estrogen did not play a significant factor in this particular study.
Although other pills may help, the FDA has only approved three types for treating acne: Yaz, Estrostep, and Orth-Tri-Cyclen. It can take several months for birth control pills to combat your acne issues. There are dozens of varieties of birth control pills available with a prescription from a healthcare provider. Lastly, remember that hormonal birth control is a temporary treatment for acne, not a cure. Once you stop the pill, hormones will return to their natural levels and acne may return. Many women find that the post-pill acne is much harder to get rid of than the acne they had before starting the pill.