Birth Control for Acne: How It Works and Its Side Effects

birth control for acne

In this article, we’ll discuss if birth control works for acne along with its side effects.


Most grown-up women have to deal with acne. While the problem is more common in adolescents and young adults, some women get acne even later in their lives. Apart from the ugly appearance of acne, they are also painful and embarrassing for women.

They wish to get rid of these and since the past several decades, the doctors have been prescribing birth control medicines to tackle the issue. Reading this article will help you understand how exactly these medicines work to get rid of acne and who should take it. Read along to be better informed.

Birth Control Medicine And Acne

Adolescents develop acne when the hormones in their bodies fluctuate. In some women, acne appears all through their life and may appear even after menopause. There is a direct connection between acne and hormones in the body.

The glands in your skin make oil that is termed as sebum. Androgens in the body help your skin to produce sebum. This oil clogs pores and encourages bacterial growth responsible for acne formation. Usually, the adrenal glands and ovaries of a woman generate less sebum.

However, in some women, more sebum is generated responsible for more acne. The androgens in the body can be reduced with the help of birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone. This is why doctors prescribe birth control pills to tackle serious acne issues.

Which Medicines Work For Acne?

Not all birth control medicines work to tackle acne issues. There are only three approved birth control medicines that have proven to be effective for acne treatment. Here we have explained more about these:

  • Estrostep: This FDA approved birth control medicine is a combination of oestrogen and progestin called norethindrone. This medicine is available in different concentrations of 0estrogen.
  • Ortho Tri-cyclen: This is yet another FDA approved birth control medicine that acts as a treatment for acne. It contains oestrogen and progestin named norgestimate. The medicine is available in different concentrations of progestin.
  • YAZ: In this medicine, oestrogen and manmade progestin named drospirenone are used. It is also an FDA approved medicine to tackle acne issues.

Who Should Use It?

Women who are suffering from severe acne issues can resort to birth control medicines to treat acne issues. In order to be allowed to take these medicines, the woman should fulfill the following description:

  • The girl/woman should be at least 14-15 years of age.
  • The woman should be of menstruating age.
  • The woman should be of the age where she needs contraception.

If the woman fulfills the criteria listed above, she can rely on the medicines. Using birth control pills for treating acne offers the following benefits:

  • The medicine helps to reduce the number of pimples, acne or flare-ups
  • Inflammation is greatly reduced
  • The acne that springs up is of much lesser severity

Who Should Avoid It?

While the acne problem is maybe serious, there are some people who should strictly avoid the use of birth control medicines to tackle this issue.

1. Women With A History Of Cancer

The doctors usually check the medical history of the woman coming for acne treatment. They avoid prescribing the treatment to women with a history of any kind of cancer. Women who have had breast uterine or liver cancer should strictly avoid this method of acne treatment.

2. Women With A History Of Heart Problems

Birth control pills are known to have adverse effects on heart health. This is the reason why women with a history of heart health problems should avoid the use of these medicines for acne treatment.

3. Women With A History Of Migraines

One of the side effects of birth control medicines seen in many women is headaches. Women with a history of migraines should strictly avoid the use of these medicines for acne treatment. They may instead resort to herbal remedies.

4. Women With A History Of Blood Clotting

Birth control medicines are known to cause blood clotting as a side effect. That is why women with a history of blood clotting disorder should avoid these medicines for acne treatment.

You do not have to get disheartened if you are unable to use birth control medicines to tackle acne. You may also try and alter your lifestyle and food to see changes in your face.

You must drink plenty of water, wash your face at regular intervals, and keep it free from dirt. You must avoid oily foods and stick to a healthy diet. Apart from all this, you also need to de-stress. Yoga and meditation are proven ways to attain peace and better health.

Side Effects

You also need to understand the possible side effects of using birth control medicines for acne treatment. This will help you choose the pros against the cons and decide whether the birth control medicines are your best bet against acne.

Here are some of the chief side effects of medicine:

  • Women using birth control pills have higher chances of blood clots in the lungs or the limbs
  • Women using oral contraceptives also stand a higher chance of getting a stroke
  • The possibility of heart health problems also increases
  • Some women have also complained of severe headache and migraine issues as a side effect of oral contraceptive pills
  • These medicines also cause mood swings and may even lead to depression in some cases
  • The chances of issues related to gall bladder also increase with birth control pills
  • Women who use it also stand a higher chance of suffering from liver health problems

While the concentration of hormones in modern birth control pills is much reduced, it may still pose a certain amount of risk for different health conditions. Women who already suffer from certain health issues need to be extra careful regarding their acne treatment choices.