Health Scoop

Birth Control and Acne: What’s the Story?

IF YOU HAVEN’T noticed lately there are a TON of birth control options out there. You can opt for the IUD (intrauterine device). You can pop a pill with your coffee. You can even implant a metal rod into your arm if you so desire.

I’m often asked about whether birth control will help with acne. The answer, as with most things in life, is it depends. Some birth control options can actually WORSEN acne or adult acne break outs may surface (although there is a bright side to adult acne too!).

Birth control options are many, and mostly consist of estrogen and progesterone combinations. If you’re battling acne and want a form of contraceptives to help smoothen that complexion, opt for formulations with triphasic progestin dosages like drospirenone.

According to one study published in a dermatology journal recently, those taking combined oral contraceptives (meaning progestin and estrogen combinations) with triphasic progestins like drospirenone saw the most improvement. Runners up included COC’s with norgestimate, desogestrel, followed by levonorgestrel and norethindrone. Vaginal rings also improved acne.

Culprits that worsened acne included depot injections, IUDs, and, subdermal (aka under the skin) implants. (Bummer! I just got qualified to put those in!)

Ref: Lortscher et al. Hormonal contraceptives and acne: a retrospective analysis of 2147 patients. J. Drugs Dermatology 2016.

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