Birth Control Tips for Women with Acne-Prone Skin

Birth control pills, IUDs, implants, and shots are widely used by women today. Besides preventing pregnancy, birth control is also often prescribed to control acne. However, not all birth control is the same. Some birth controls actually aggravate breakouts in women with acne-prone skin.

So, what’s the deal?

Typically, birth control is divided up as estrogen or progestin dominant and have varying degrees of androgenic (testosterone-like) effects. As a general rule of thumb, birth control with the potential for higher androgenic symptoms promote breakouts. Women with acne-prone skin should speak with their doctors about selecting a form of birth control that is higher in estrogen and lower in androgen potency.

The most common birth controls that are higher in estrogen and lower in androgen are:

  • Brevicon
  • Necon
  • Tri-Nessa
  • Demulan
  • Ortho Tricyclen
  • Tri-Previferm
  • Femcon
  • Ortho-Novum
  • Tri-Sprintec
  • Kelnor
  • Ovcon
  • Zovia
  • Modicon
  • Previferm
  • MonoNessa
  • Sprintec

For women with acne-prone skin, it is best to avoid the following birth controls that are high in androgen activity and low in estrogen:

  • Alesse
  • Kariva
  • Nexplanon
  • Amethyst
  • Lessina
  • Nordette
  • Apri
  • Levora/Levonest
  • Norplant
  • Azurette
  • Linessa
  • NuvaRing
  • Caziant
  • Loestrin
  • Ogestrel
  • Cryselle
  • Lo-Feminol
  • Ortho Tricyclen Lo
  • Cyclessa
  • Lo-Ogestrel
  • Ovral
  • Depo-Provera
  • Lo-Ovral
  • Paragard/Copper IUD*
  • Desogen
  • Lutera
  • Portia
  • Emoquette
  • Marvelon
  • Reclipsen
  • Estrostep Fe
  • Microgestin
  • Seasonale/Seasonique
  • Implanon
  • Mircette
  • Sronyx
  • Jolessa
  • Mirena or Skylar IUD
  • Triphasil/Trivora
  • *Although the Paragard/Copper IUD does not contain any hormones, we have observed that it has aggravated acne with our clients

Only you and your doctor can determine what form of birth control is right for you. Our Acne Specialists can only offer you the basic guidelines to initiate a conversation between you and your doctor. If you are considering using birth control, it is important to know that it can be associated with a high risk of blood clots, weight gain, nausea, mood changes, depression and breast tenderness. Serious side effects include strokes, digestive issues and embolism.

It is entirely possible to treat acne without using birth control. If you are considering using birth control only to control your acne, talk with an Acne Specialist to understand the alternatives. We may be able to help you with clinical-strength topical products and treatments.

Check out How Does Benzoyl Peroxide Clear Acne

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