Your Skin on Birth Control

Simple Health

Different birth control methods will have different effects on your skin, so talk to your dermatologist first if you want to get on birth control to manage your acne. That being said, birth control has long been prescribed as an acne treatment, due to its effectiveness in clearing up skin.

Hormonal acne is produced by uneven hormone levels. Though we often associate androgens with men, we all have both androgens and estrogens in balance. Throughout the course of an ovulatory menstrual cycle, as your hormonal profile shifts from higher estrogen levels to lower levels, androgens like testosterone become relatively more active and promote acne. By providing your body with a steady dose of estrogen, hormonal birth control counterracts androgenic effects and stabilizes estrogen levels, decreasing your chances of developing acne. Certain oral contraceptives have even been cleared by the FDA for use in acne treatment, such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Estrostep. Just remember, acne is an inflammatory disorder, so it’s subject to all sorts of factors besides your hormone levels, like skin cleanliness and diet.

Melasma is a hyperpigmentation disorder that occurs in 10-15% of pregnant women and 10-25% of women taking oral birth control. It looks like brown splotches on the skin, and it’s very sensitive to both estrogen and progesterone. While it doesn’t indicate any deeper health problems, some people find it aesthetically displeasing. If you’re concerned about melasma that occurred as a result of your birth control, talk to a doctor about switching contraception methods. Your melasma will go away once you stop taking the pill.

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