Should I Consider Birth Control To Reduce My Acne Naturally?

Oral contraceptives, or birth control, has been around for decades.  Over the last 20 years, it has become a popular option for young women looking to get their acne under control, not just to prevent pregnancy.  However, as with any hormonal treatments, there are both benefits and potential side effects.  It is important to take everything into consideration before making a decision.

Why Birth Control is Effective

Acne develops when sebum and dead skin cells both build up within a hair follicle, they then combine to clog the pore.  As they grow, the follicle wall will rupture which allows even more oil and skin cells to accumulate in the pore.  This is what causes additional inflammation and bacterial infection.
Birth control pills are effective because they will reduce the amount of sebum that is produced by the skin.  It is important to understand that birth control pills are only effective at controlling acne that is caused by excess sebum.  When there are other causes of acne affecting someone, birth control pills will not be enough.  They are usually most effective when coupled with other treatments.  It also may take several months before the birth control can limit sebum production, which means while the bodies hormones are adjusting, the acne may actually get worse before it gets better.

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Which Birth Control Pills Are Most Effective

There are currently three estrogen-progestin combination birth control pills that have been approved by the FDA to help treat acne.  Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, and Yaz have all been tested and approved.  They are normally not going to be the first option that a dermatologist will recommend, because they will only help acne that is being created because of excess sebum.

Potential Side Effects
As with any medication or hormone altering prescription, there are always potential side effects that need to be taken into consideration.  Several of the more common side effects include: headaches, alteration in the menstrual flow, breast tenderness, nausea, vomiting, depression, diminished libido or sex drive, and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and blood clots.

The chance of side effects becoming a problem is always an increased risk if:
  1. You are over 35 and are a smoker
  2. Have a history of heart disease
  3. Have a history of cancer of the breast, uterine, or liver
  4. Have a history of blood clots in the legs or lungs

Birth control can be a great way to control certain types of acne and acne outbreaks.  However, the choice to use birth control to control acne should be a decision that is made with the consultation of a professional.

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