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How Do Birth Control Pills Affect Acne?

Learn what effect birth control pills have on acne from dermatologist Cybele Fishman, MD in this Howcast skin care video.

Transcript

So one of the very common treatments for female acne are birth control pills. And the reason that birth control pills help is they help regulate the hormones. Sometimes what happens in women is the balance between estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and some of the other reproductive hormones gets out of whack. And what birth control pills basically do is they help bring the hormones back into balance. In addition, birth control pills will decrease the amount of testosterone that's stimulating the oil gland -- what we call the sebaceous gland -- in your skin.

Birth control pills usually cause about a 30% to 60% reduction in acne. But of course it depends on the person. And of course some birth control pills cause side effects that a lot of women do not want, like weight gain, mood swings, and lowered sex drive. But thankfully now there are many new birth control pills that work very well and avoid some of those major side effects.

So the choice of birth control pill is actually very important, because there are some birth control pills, because of their progesterone component, that can actually cause acne. In addition, birth control like Mirena IUD can also cause acne, and in some people the Nuvaring causes acne as well. Remember, these things are very individual, so what applies to your friend may not apply to you.

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