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The Upside of The Pill and Acne

Most people know that when used correctly, birth control pills are almost 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. But birth control pills offer many other medical benefits as well. One of the health benefits associated with birth control pills is the prevention and reduction of acne breakouts.

Some low-dosage birth control pills have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in treating acne in women. Two kinds of birth control pills that have been approved for acne treatment in the United States are Ortho Tri-Cyclen and the generic norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol. In Canada, the combination of cyproterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol has been approved for use as acne treatment.

According to the results of one study, low-dosage birth control pills containing levonorgestrel were also effective in reducing the appearance of acne breakouts. Alesse is the brand name of a birth control pill containing levonorgestrel.

Whether to take birth control pills as a medication for acne is a personal decision that should be discussed with your doctor. Birth control pills are not right for all women, especially women with certain medical heredities, physical tendencies, lifestyle habits, or health problems.

You may be asking yourself, “How do birth control pills work to control or reduce acne breakouts?” Women’s bodies produce androgen, a male hormone that is associated with oil production in the skin. The amount of androgen produced is generally at its highest just before the start of menstruation. Medical research has shown that low-dosage birth control pills have the effect of decreasing the amount of androgens in the body. A decrease in excess androgens means a decrease in the amount of oil produced, which can lead to a decrease in acne breakouts.

Low-dosage birth control pills work especially well as a treatment for acne breakouts when coupled with other acne treatments, such as topical antibacterial skin cleansers or applications. Girls and women who suffer from acne breakouts should remember to take general measures to keep their skin clean and free of the build-up of dirt and makeup. No single treatment for acne, including birth control pills, can work alone.

After taking low-dosage birth control pills, many girls and women have reported a significant decrease in the amount of acne breakouts they experience and a noticeable overall improvement in the appearance of their skin. While the desire for clearer skin may be strong for many girls and women, the decision to take birth control pills should not be made lightly. There are many factors that should be considered carefully before starting a birth control prescription.

There are several medical risks that are linked to taking birth control pills.

Birth control pills increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots, and breast cancer. These risks increase if you are a smoker. There are also other possible side effects to consider such as vaginal bleeding (other than during menstruation), fluid retention, weight gain, nausea, headaches, a change in menstrual cycle, and changes in mood.

Birth control pills have been associated with many positive medical effects, however, such as the prevention of ovarian and uterine cancer.

If you are trying to decide whether to begin a birth control prescription for treating acne, preventing pregnancy, or both, you should know the risks and the benefits associated with birth control pills.

Greg Podsakoff is a former acne sufferer, and currently provides information on treating acne, pimples, and zits, via an objective informational skincare website,

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