How Do Birth Control Pills Help With Acne? That’s what experts say

Traditionally swallowed to prevent pregnancy, birth control pills are now prescribed for several other reasons to make women’s lives easier — for example, to relieve them of lifelong recurring acne breakouts that last beyond puberty. How did something made specifically to inhibit ovulation become a magic pill for women with chronic skin conditions? How does birth control pills actually affect your skin?

The hormonal spiral

To understand how oral contraceptives work, we need to understand a woman’s endocrine system. “A woman’s endocrine system, which is responsible for her period, works like clockwork,” says Dr. Ameya Kanakiya, OB/GYN consultant, menopause specialist and co-founder of Elda Health. The pituitary gland in the brain secretes a hormone that signals the ovaries to start developing eggs. These eggs then secrete the female hormone estrogen, which prepares the uterine bed or lining of the uterus for a possible pregnancy. “One of those developing eggs then ovulates, and the ovary now secretes the hormone progesterone, which strengthens that uterine bed,” explains Dr. Kanakiya. When you’re not pregnant, hormone levels drop and the lining of the womb sheds, meaning you get your period and a new cycle begins.

Our endocrine system plays a huge role in our skin health. You will find your skin glowing around the time of ovulation thanks to estrogen. And those pre-period breakouts—these are effects of declining hormones.

When you take birth control pills, you essentially use hormones to stop ovulation. “A birth control pill contains both the hormones estrogen and progesterone,” says Dr. Kanakiya. So when you have a steady supply of these hormones, the signals to develop eggs from the brain to the ovaries stop, inhibiting ovulation and controlling birth.

Then there are the male hormones, or androgens, which women have in small amounts in their blood and sometimes exceed their limit. “Acne and hirsutism (excessive male hair growth) occur due to an excess of these male hormones over the females,” says Dr. Kanakiya.

“Birth control pills help lower levels of these free androgens, thereby helping control acne breakouts on the skin and reducing facial hair growth.” And because they affect our body’s hormone levels — by maintaining a constant dose of blasting hormones and keeping the male hormone in our bodies under control – birth control pills help control hormone-related skin problems like acne and keep skin looking healthy. “While there are various options for treating acne, such as prescribing antibiotics and skin ointments that control the overproduction of oil and sebum on the skin, sometimes it may be necessary to control the root cause of acne by controlling the free androgens reduced,” adds Dr.Kanakiya.

The checklist

Since these are hormones, it is important to consult a doctor before starting oral contraceptives. “These pills may not be safe in women with high and uncontrolled blood pressure, a history of stroke or heart attack, migraines, liver dysfunction, a strong family history of gynecologic cancer, and so on,” warns Dr. Kanakiya. An important rule: Do not treat yourself. Consult your gynecologist before starting contraception after they have evaluated your health factors. And while they can help keep your skin acne-free, maintaining that inner glow is only possible by making and maintaining mindful lifestyle changes like eating well, sleeping right, and exercising regularly.

Also read:

The top 10 myths about the birth control pill, debunked

Do you see excessive hair loss? Your birth control pill may be to blame

What happens if you stop taking the birth control pill mid-pack?

Comments are closed.