There are quite a few prescription medications used to combat acne, but one of the most frequent choices for women is the use of a birth control pill for acne. This approach can be used with teenagers as well as adult women, but if you're a guy, you are out of luck. Using the birth control pill for acne on a man is a recipe for disaster. The female hormones would wreak havoc on a man's system.
For women though, the birth control pill for acne can be a minor miracle. And if your acne is severe enough to require use of the most dangerous acne drug, birth control is an absolute necessity. You will not be able to take the risky drug without also using the birth control pill for acne.
Why does using the birth control pill for acne work?
Teen girls and women often experience outbreaks of acne just before their menstrual periods. This is especially true with teens because their hormones are often surging out of whack and haven't settled into a more even production yet. The birth control pill for acne works by evening out those hormonal surges. When a woman's hormones are regulated by using the birth control pill for acne, they often find the breakouts lessen in both frequency and severity.
Is taking birth control pills for acne right for you?
The hormones estrogen, progestin and testosterone can be wildly unstable in the first few years after a girl enters puberty. The fluctuating levels of these hormones can really irritate the acne nearly all teens are prone to suffer. For girls experiencing moderate or worse breakouts, and the embarrassment that comes with them, using birth control pills for acne can be a miracle. Not only do their systems calm down, the breakouts become milder. Adult women often appreciate the clearer skin that comes with the pill, even though they weren't using birth control pills for acne in the first place.
If you are suffering severe acne problems, your doctor may choose to put you on very effective medication called isotretinoin. This drug, sold under the name Accutane, is very powerful, highly effective and absolutely not to be used during pregnancy. This is where birth control pills for acne are most often prescribed.
Accutane can cause such damage to a fetus that if a doctor prescribes it for you, he is required by law to make sure you have two negative pregnancy tests no more than a week before you start taking the drug. You have to be using birth control, so most doctors prescribe birth control pills for acne as well, and you must have a negative pregnancy test before each month's refill of Accutane.
These regulations have been in place for some time, but because pregnancies while on isotretinoin are still happening, new federal regulations have been added. If you take the drug, you are required to sign into a national database so doctors, pharmacists and the government can track users of the drug and make sure all the anti-pregnancy precautions are being taken, including birth control pills for acne and a second form of birth control.
What are the side effects to taking birth control pills for acne?
If your doctor prescribes birth control pills for acne and you take the correct dosage, using the medication according to instructions, then the side effects are very minimal.
The standard but generally low risks of birth control pills for acne or other uses include weight gain, nausea, irregular or breakthrough (during the month) bleeding. In very rare cases, this medication can cause problems with blood pressure, blood clots and perhaps even heart attacks or strokes.
One important thing to know about taking birth control pills for acne is that if your doctor also prescribes antibiotics, and you're using the pill for pregnancy protection as well, you'll want to add a backup method of birth control. The birth control pill for acne will still help manage your skin, but can fail to protect you from pregnancy while you're also on antibiotics.