Birth Control Pills and Acne Relation

We have two groups related to the concern of birth control pills with Acne. One says that their face acne was cured by taking birth control pills on doctor’s advice, while others say that their Acne happened because of taking birth control pills.

So what is the actual relation between these two things? Let’s find out in detail so you won’t end up with an acne issue on your face.

What causes Acne?

So before solving the mystery, we should know the main factors that cause Acne on our skin. Acne is usually caused by an imbalance of hormones in our bodies. It usually happens at puberty because that is the time of great hormonal changes.

Acne is usually androgen-mediated. No matter if you are a girl and androgen is a male sex hormone. It is also present in females the difference comes in the amount and production of the hormone present in the body.

Some form of Acne can also occur due to medications, makeup, or unhygienic conditions.

Role of Androgen in Acne:

Androgens will lead to high sebum production when the levels are high. It also causes a change in skin cells. Thus more oil is produced, and oil production will lead to clogged pores that will ultimately cause Acne.

So androgens do not directly cause Acne, but high levels will eventually lead to Acne.

What are birth control pills?

These are the synthetic hormones that will prevent fertilization and act as a contraceptive. They will prevent the sperm from causing fertilization by different methods. These pills are made by combining estrogen and progesterone. They have some benefits related to menstruation, but they are also helpful in reducing Acne.

What does birth control pills do in Acne?

Now that we know what causes Acne, we need to know the role of birth control pills. In the human body, one hormone counter regulates the other hormone. The same scenario goes here. Birth control pills have estrogen in them that counter regulate testosterone (an androgen that causes Acne). When testosterone level decreases, the acne severity will automatically decrease.

This is why birth control pills are prescribed in hormone-related Acne.

Why birth control pills cause Acne?

Now that you know the whole mechanism of controlling your Acne by estrogen levels. The question arises that why these pills cause Acne in some women. Well, the answer goes that some pills might lack anti-androgenic properties enough to do counter-regulation. In some cases, Acne even worsens when the pills are stopped.

Types of Birth Control Pills:

The birth control pills might have Progestin or Progestin plus Estrogen.

Progestin is progesterone’s synthetic form. This hormone does not counter regulate androgens. Thus the pills that only have progestin in them does not help with acne control. Instead, these pills will aggravate your already present acne condition.

Birth Control Pills vs. Antibiotics for Acne:

It was observed, and a proper study came regarding this issue that claims that the antibiotics work well in the first three months of use for the inflammatory or non-inflammatory types of Acne. But as for continuous use, like after six months, birth control pills will work better and take the lead to control Acne of both types.

So, although for Acne, birth control pills are not used as a first-line treatment. But it can surely decrease the period of antibiotics intake.

The conclusion comes to the point that antibiotics will show the effect quickly, while birth control pills will take time. But here, the problem arises of getting resistant to the antibiotics due to prolong use. Long term use of antibiotics will also lead to toxicity and gastric issues. So many people think that birth control pills win in the race of curing Acne.

The dose of Birth Control Pills to Reduce Acne:

We don’t want a birth control pill for Acne; what we need is the quantity of estrogen to lower the effect of testosterone. So when this theory came, and doctors started recommending birth control pills for Acne, it was 150 mcg of estrogen in one dose. This was way too much; it started showing its side effects like weight gain, headaches, anxiety, bloating, and many more.

Now a very light dose of 20 to 35 mcg also proves to help in Acne. A low dose also means fewer side effects while curing the issue. So always check the dosage label before buying. Don’t give an extra amount of estrogen that you don’t need.

Best Pills For curing Acne:

So now you know that the minimal amount of estrogen in the birth control pills will help you to cure Acne. But now we need to know about the progestin in the birth control pills first. Then we can know which one is the best.


It is a synthetic compound used in birth control pills; some kinds of progestin boost androgenic effect while some do an anti-androgenic work. The ones that are effective against androgens will work best for Acne.

The names of the progestin that have anti-androgenic effects are:

  1. Chlormadinone acetate
  2. Dienogest
  3. Cyproterone acetate
  4. Drospirenone

While the progestins that aggravate your Acne are androgenic, the list that you need to avoid are:

  1. Norethindrone
  2. Norethindrone acetate.
  3. Norgestimate
  4. Norethynodrel

While buying pills for your Acne, keep a keen eye on the composition list.

Most effective Pills for Acne:

So now you know that if you want to cure Acne, you need to use birth control pills that have an anti-androgenic form of progestin with a low dose of estrogen. The list of such medications include:

  1. Diane-35
  2. Valette
  3. Qlaira
  4. Beyaz
  5. Ortho tri-cyclen
  6. Yasmin
  7. Yaz – the most recommended one

What Will Happen When I Will Stop Taking Birth Control Pills For Acne?

One needs to stop taking these pills at some point.

Birth control pills are always temporary treatment. It will not cure Acne. We are only stopping the way which causes Acne. So you will have a post-pill break out of Acne when you stop taking them. Hormones will take time to get normal, and during this time, you will have some severe acne.

Some people say that the post-pill Acne was even worse than the Acne they started using pills for.

Side Effects Of Birth Controlling Pills:

Drugs always come with side effects. You cannot have the benefits without any other effects. Birth control pills that alter your hormones will lead to:

  1. Breast or cervical cancer
  2. Hypertension
  3. Migraines
  4. Nausea/vomiting
  5. Dizziness
  6. Weight gain
  7. Decreased bone mass
  8. Infections

If the birth control pill is taken by a smoker, it will lead to an increased risk of blood clotting leading to venous thromboembolism.

Things to keep in mind before starting birth control pills:

You need to keep your medical condition in mind and should always discuss them with your doctor before taking any birth control pills.

The medical conditions like heart issues, smoking history, blood pressure, or diabetes.


To treat your Acne on doctor’s recommendation, you can take birth control pills that have a low dose of estrogen and progestin that is anti-androgenic. Before starting the pills, you need to keep your medical health in mind.

And always remember that birth control pills are not a cure for your Acne; they are just a temporary treatment for your skin.

Related Questions:

Q. Can birth control pills causes Acne?

Yes, if the formulation contains progestin that is androgenic, they will surely cause Acne. Make sure to check the label for the formulations to avoid this side effect.

Q. For how long I need to wait for results after starting birth control pills?

They usually take 3 to 6 months to show the results. Birth control pills take time. You need to be patient with them. It is not an overnight treatment. The better results will start showing after six months of use.

Q. Is there any formulation that causes weight loss along with acne control?

Acne is usually controlled by estrogen, which causes weight gain in the side effects. The only progestin that is anti-androgenic is not effective alone for Acne. So all you can do is take medications that have an ultra-low dose of estrogen in them to reduce side effects.

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