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Birth Control That Helps With Acne And No Weight Gain
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The Best Birth Control Pill For You: A Guide To Contraceptive Options
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This article was reviewed by Olivia P. Myrick, MD, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone.
Our stories are vetted by medical experts to ensure you get the most accurate and useful information about your health and well-being. More information can be found on our medical review board.
Birth control is an option that works very well for many people with acne when topical acne treatments fail.
Choosing The Right Pill
“For years, doctors have prescribed birth control as a treatment for hormonal acne,” says Lavanya Krishnan, MD, FAAD, of Arya Derm in San Francisco. “This is one of the standard treatment options for patients with hormonal acne.”
A common cause of acne, especially in teenagers, is androgen imbalance. Androgens are hormones that are present in both men and women, but some people can produce them in large amounts. A side effect is an increase in sebum, the type of sebum produced by the skin.
Excess oil can clog pores and cause acne. Contraception can help here. Hormonal birth control regulates hormones in a way that reduces androgen production, which reduces sebum production and hopefully reduces acne.
However, not all birth control pills are created equal when it comes to fighting acne. Although other pills may help, there are only three FDA-approved acne medications: Yaz, Erostep, and Orth-Tri-Cyclen. These three are prescribed according to the types of hormones they contain:
Acne Returning When Coming Off The Pill
While these three types of birth control pills are most commonly used to treat acne, doctors may prescribe other birth control pills that also work for some patients.
“Most birth control pills contain estrogen and progesterone, and the type of estrogen, and especially progesterone, can vary greatly from pill to pill,” says Krishnan. “Every patient is very different and responds to different birth control options in different ways.”
Contraceptive use is not without risks, and various factors must be considered. Once your doctor has determined that you are an ideal candidate for birth control, you will need to decide whether the possibility of clearing your skin is worth the potential side effects and risks.
“Patients with no personal or family history of clotting disorders or blood clots, with a BMI in the healthy range, non-smokers and under 35 years of age are the best candidates,” Krishnan said. “If side effects like weight gain and mood swings are a concern, it makes sense to choose an option with a slightly lower estrogen component.”
Oral Contraceptive Pills
Contraception is also not a guaranteed way to get rid of acne. Birth control can make your acne worse. Sometimes when you start taking the pill, your skin may get worse before it gets better.
There are only three FDA-approved birth control pills for acne: Yaz, Erostep, and Orth-Tri-Cyclen. But doctors can prescribe other types.
Unfortunately, finding the right acne pill with few side effects takes some work. It is impossible to predict what will or will not work for you.
Ashley Laderer is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in health and wellness. Follow her on Twitter @ahladereJulia A. Siegel, MD is a board-certified dermatologist in Boston, MA. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.
Acne Lesson 7: Birth Control And Acne
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Possible Side Effects of Using Birth Control for Acne Who Can Prescribe Birth Control Pills for Acne When to Consult Your Doctor About Birth Control
For some people, acne isn’t just a recurring annoying skin problem, it’s a chronic condition. Instead of dealing with occasional spots, the skin is constantly red, irritated, and sometimes painful to the touch. It is at this point that many people see birth control as a way to treat and manage flare-ups.
But just like taking any other prescription drug, you need to do your research and talk to your doctor before using birth control pills for acne prone skin. This is because not all birth control methods are equally effective or provide the same skin-clearing benefits. 2016
Here’s Exactly How To Find The Best Birth Control Pill For You
Studies have found that combined birth control pills, or those containing estrogen and progesterone, are often best for clear skin, while hormonal injections, implants, and intrauterine devices (IUDs) tend to make acne worse.
Combined hormonal contraceptives or primary oral contraceptives prescribed for acne contain two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. These hormones work together to suppress ovulation. A typical menstrual cycle includes menstruation (one cycle), follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase, all of which are driven by hormonal fluctuations in the brain and ovaries. Birth control pills block these fluctuations, which in turn prevent ovulation.
Birth control works by affecting hormone levels in your body, which not only prevents unwanted pregnancy, but can also affect other hormone-related problems like acne.
Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin says, “When a woman’s hormone levels shift from more female characteristics (eg, estrogen and progesterone) to more male characteristics (eg, testosterone), secretions and acne are affected during our cycle,” MD, board certified. dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology in New York.
Best Contraceptive Pill
“When hormones dominate in men, several changes occur in the skin: the sebaceous glands (glands that produce oil) become more active, dead skin cells are shed, and skin cells become stickier. This environment is ideal for acne flare-ups. Some women are more sensitive to circulating testosterone and develop hormonal acne,” says Levine. Taking birth control pills can stabilize these hormones and lower the amount of testosterone in your body.
Levin, who is also on the faculty at NYU Langone, said Ortho Tri-Cyclen, a popular brand of birth control pills, is FDA-approved for acne-prone skin. In addition to Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Erostep, and Yaz, there are two other brands of birth control pills that are FDA-approved to treat acne. Yaz contains the progestagen hormone drospirenone, which is known to be particularly effective in reducing hormonal acne.
While some brands of birth control pills are FDA-approved to treat acne, others are still prescribed off-label with some success. Other times, people using oral contraceptives for other indications may find an additional “side effect” in the overall reduction of acne symptoms. Sara Twogood, MD, OB/GYN, notes that all oral contraceptives are antiandrogenic, meaning they reduce the levels of androgens, such as testosterone, in the body. Androgens are one of the factors that contribute to the development of hormonal acne, so blocking them can help improve acne over time.
“There are no set requirements or parameters for starting birth control pills for acne. Decisions about when or whether to start birth control pills to help manage acne should be individualized,” Twogood said.
Important Facts About Over The Counter Birth Control Pills
Nava Greenfield, MD, of the Schweiger Dermatology Group agrees: “Each person can respond differently to different forms of oral contraceptives, so it’s important to find the one that’s right for you.”
Acne can appear as blackheads, whiteheads, small scars, or even cysts, but the underlying cause of acne is the treatment that determines whether birth control is working. Juvenile acne, or inflammatory acne, can be treated with oral antibiotics, but hormonal acne usually cannot be successfully treated with antibiotics, Levin says.
This is where hormonal medications, such as birth control pills, can come into play. If home remedies for acne don’t help, or if you have large, hard, or pus-filled bumps, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether you have hormonal or cystic acne—both of which can be treated with birth control. Other signs that you’re dealing with hormonal acne and not old-fashioned inflammatory acne include breakouts that come in cycles with your menstrual cycle and breakouts that appear mainly along the chin or chin.
While it may take a month to notice an improvement, “in most studies, it took three to six months to show a reduction in acne from using birth control,” says Twogood. Orally, of course
What Is Post Birth Control Syndrome?
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