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What Every Woman Needs to Know About Birth Control Acne Treatments

As a woman, you may be at your wit’s end trying to find the right course of treatment to control your specific acne type.

It’s common to have been prescribed birth control pills as a potential remedy by your doctor. For the many women out there suffering from painful and inflamed acne that is difficult to treat, not to mention embarrassing, they are often recommended to try birth control acne treatments as a last resort.

Birth Control Acne Treatment Options

According to Lawrence E. Gibson M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, birth control pills are often prescribed as a birth control acne treatment if acne has not responded to other forms of treatment, like topical products and medication. Three specific types of birth control pills have been approved by the FDA as a potential acne treatment for young women, which are Yaz, Estrosteo, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. [1]

Acne is a result of excess oil produced in the skin, which will mix with dead skin cells and create an acne lesion. This is further worsened by bacteria that cause an infection in the acne in the skin. Doctors often prescribe birth control pills as a form of acne treatment since they are claimed to reduce oil production to hopefully lessen the risk of acne outbreaks.

Problem solved, right? Wrong!

Several sources online state that birth control acne treatments are an ideal alternative. However, it is important to point out that they don’t come without their share of side effects.

Here are some of the side effects that you can expect from birth control acne treatment:

  • Changes in menstruation
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Vomiting/nausea
  • Decreased libido
  • Depression
  • Fetal defects if you are pregnant
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, blood clots, and high potassium

This long list of complications is troubling to say the least, especially if you are looking for a long-term acne treatment.

Something works better.

There is an acne treatment available that will reduce excess oil production in the skin by balancing the hormones, and it all starts with understanding the true cause of acne. Yes, it really is that simple…

Here are some first-hand testimonials of the unfortunate side effects of using birth control to treat acne from forum users:

I would never take bc again. In total I took 5 years of pills (every brand) and 2 years of depo shot. Worse mistake ever….it caused my period to become irregular, spotting, and that’s when my chest acne began. My hormones are now so unbalanced. I’ve been off bc for over 4 years and I’m still having problems.

I took Yasmin briefly, then Yaz, and both were a nightmare for me. My acne cleared up for the first month, then came back strong as ever. The worst part about both pills is that they gave me terrible mood swings. I burst out crying when I lost a game of checkers, cried at sad commercials, and got angry very easily.

For me, yaz did absolutely nothing for my skin, and it gave me crazy bad mood swings. Needless to say, I got off of it after about 7 months of taking it.

Yaz gave me an initial breakout that was bad, cleared my acne for a couple of months, and then WHAM I got acne in places I had never had a problem with before like my jawline and chin. It was mostly nodules and cystic acne, too, so it took forever to go away. I’m still dealing with the residual scars left from Yaz.

Wouldn’t you prefer to enjoy a fresh and healthy diet that will benefit your overall health and vitality without any side effects?

Compared to birth control acne treatments, eating a healthy diet does not have such side effects as vomiting, headaches, depression, and even birth defects.

Instead, a healthy acne diet will stimulate healthy digestion and flush toxins from the body, which will effectively work to balance hormones and reduce excess oil production in the skin. This is exactly what birth control acne treatments claim to do, yet they also leave you at risk for a very long list of side effects to potentially damage your health.

On top of that, you will be committed to taking a birth control pill every single day, which may be difficult for many women to remember to do. By turning to a healthy diet regimen to control your acne, you instead have the capability to establish new and healthy habits in your daily life that will greatly impact the quality and clarity of your skin.

If you’re hoping to minimize oil production and get rid of acne in your complexion, I would urge you not to consider birth control acne treatments, but instead start by avoiding the foods that cause oily skin, treating yourself holistically from the inside out!


  1. Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Birth Control Pills for Acne? –” Mayo Clinic. 22 Sept. 2009. Web. 06 Jan. 2011. .

About the Author: Bethany Ramos is an aesthetician and makeup artist with a special interest in using nutrition to heal and alleviate a number of conditions in the skin. You can find out more skin care and makeup tips by visiting her blog at FacebyBethany.

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I eat insanely healthy, all the time, and I still break out. If it were that simple, people would have done this already, especially those of us that have tried EVERYTHING.

People are doing it, and have done it. It’s the pharmaceutical industry that doesn’t want you to know about it.


For months I stopped eating wheat, sugar, dairy you name it. I had other health benefits from that kind of diet, but it did nothing for my acne. If you have hormonal issues, diet isnt going to fix it unfortunately.

I started on the birth control pill in high school to clear up my acne. A few years after my paps started to come back with mutated cells and I was advised to try switching pills to see if this would help. AT the age of 20 I was at level 3 out of 5 for cancer because of the mutated cells. Afterwards I tried several other brands of birth control which led to worse acne, leg spasms, collapsed veins in my legs… (I have never smoked). Out of fear I went off the pill right away. Not even 3 months later my cells went back to normal but my acne started to get worse. I have been off the pill now for over 12 years and my acne has changed to adult cyst type. I still regret ever going on the birth control pill and do not suggest it for anyone. Funny enough though my acne clears up right before my period and during. The following weeks are when it comes back along my jaw line and neck. I can’t tell people what to do but I wish I had never taken the pill in hopes of solving my acne.

I find your story to be suspicious, Bri. Especially considering that abnormal paps are caused only by HPV, bacteria or yeast infections, or menopause. Period. Any correlation between a higher risk of cervical cancer and birth control is mostly likely because those on birth control may be less likely to use condoms, which help prevent stds.

I completely agree that diet will not do anything to alleviate your acne. Unfortunately, I have lived with cystic acne for 17 years and have tried EVERYTHING. So many dermatologist, so many antibiotics, accutane, topicals, chemical peels. The one thing I have been putting off is birth control pills, and that is because I dont want the mood swings. I think there are so many gimmicks out, so since everyone has different bodies and different needs-it really just comes down to trial and error. After living with acne for so long, I would do anything for it to just go away

Ms. V,

My heart goes out to you. I really suggest you incorporate some of the dietary guidelines on this website. Despite what many are lead to believe, a correct diet can help ones acne that is caused my hormones.


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