Acne and Birth Control: How It Works

May 29, 2013 2

Have you ever wondered why acne and birth control pills are so closely related and why doctors often prescribe these pills to treat bad skin issues? How can a substance designed to prevent pregnancy be used for a completely different purpose?

If you dig just a little deeper into this problem, you will quickly understand how it works. See, bothacne and birth control medications are all about hormones. It is widely known that acne bacteria thrive in sebum released by special glands under the skin. The amount of sebum produced depends on androgen, a male human hormone. The more androgen a body produces, the more sebum there is.

acne and birth control pillsIn normal conditions, sebum is released to the skin surface through pores and additional amount of the substance is produced to replace it – this way bacteria can’t reproduce fast enough to become an issue. However, if there is excess sebum production, it clogs pores leading to bacteria growth intensification and problem escalation.

That’s why for decades doctors have been trying to lower androgen levels in patients with mild to severe acne, especially if less radical methods failed to give positive results. One way to do that is by increasing the amount of female human hormones in the body, namely estrogen and progesterone. These are exactly the substances found in the vast majority of birth control pills. That’s why these medications are often used to treat acne.

Acne and birth control: Uses and Precautions

The majority of women can take birth control medications, as long as they are over 14 years of age and need contraception. However, oral contraceptives should be avoided by these groups of people:

  • Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers;
  • People with cardiovascular issues (heart disease, hypertension, etc.);
  • Women with diabetes;
  • Patients with liver issues;

There are different types of oral contraceptives that have been proved effective in acne treatment. All contain estrogen and some form of synthetic progesterone. Keep in mind, the exact type of medication to be used in your particular case should be prescribed by a doctor, as they an have a slightly different effect on the body.
If other treatments failed and patient still has severe acne, birth control pills can improve the condition effectively. Yet, they should be used with caution and completely avoided by the groups of people mentioned above.


  1. Kate Walters June 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Hi, thanks for sharing. I’m wondering if it’s OK to copy some of the text in my site?

  2. Clyde Hendricks June 30, 2013 at 7:35 am - Reply

    would you allow we copy some content from the article? Thanks.

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