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The Pill Fights Acne. Should You Take It?

Good news if you're fighting hormonal acne: A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that a drug combination can help women with severe acne. Researchers gave a group of 27 women the combination of spironolactone (a diuretic) and oral contraceptive Yasmin, and the results are fantastic:

At the end of the study, 11 percent of women were entirely clear of acne lesions, 74 percent had excellent improvement, 7.4 percent had mild improvement, and 7.4 percent had no change.

All in all, 85% of women saw marked improvement in their complexions. Huzzah! This doesn't shock me, though; birth control pills regulate hormones, which can keep acne from flaring up. Being on the Pill has kept my jawline much clearer, that's for sure. For some pros and cons of using the Pill to combat blemishes,


Pros of the Pill

  • It minimizes cystic acne and recurring breakouts, especially along the jawline.
  • It leads to lighter periods with less cramping.
  • If you're already looking for a birth control method, this one keeps your face clear.
  • You can easily stop taking the Pill if you're unhappy with it.
  • You won't wind up with Junior before you're ready.

Cons of the Pill

  • You have to take it at the same time every day, which is a large commitment if you're using it for acne alone.
  • You shouldn't take the Pill if you're a smoker.
  • You could experience mood swings, changes in weight, or other side effects.
  • It can cost up to $55 per month.

Not to sound like a pharmaceutical commercial, but only you and your doctor can decide whether you should go on the Pill. Personally, I love having easier periods and a clearer face. (In fact, whenever I've gone off the Pill, I become the de facto mayor of Pimpletown.) But if you're not concerned about contraception, and you're interested in the Pill only because of its acne-fighting abilities, be sure to talk with your physician about the side effects and small-but-real risks.

And one last thing: Some prescriptions, like Yasmin and Ortho Tri-Cyclen, have received FDA approval to treat acne. That's why their ads tout this as an added benefit. But many, if not all, oral contraceptives will fight acne. So don't panic if your doctor prescribes a version that isn't marketed that way; more than likely, it'll get the job done just as well.

Join The Conversation
Orlando3699533 Orlando3699533 4 years
The last thing you want to do is use birth control to stop acne. You are only messing with your hormones more! What I found to help is standard benzoyl peroxide and a pill called Wipeout. I bought it at Instead of shrinking the glands like Accutane, it stops oil production, stopping the acne. I saw results in a week, clear face in a month. And it wont harm you like all the other acne pills out there and wont affect your hormone levels.
samischo samischo 9 years
the first time i was on the pill, it cleared up my skin a little. the second time i started, i broke out worse than i ever have in my life. i immediately stopped it because it was also making me depressed, and my skin cleared up again. coincidence? maybe
Lindzy49 Lindzy49 9 years
The pill can really mess with your body... even if you feel it's doing good things now, you don't really know the long-term effects that can come about!
sunami sunami 9 years
When I decided to get off the pill, it ruined my hormonal system. I was on the pill to regulate my period but now I wished I never took it. My skin broke out regularily and more during my now regulated cycle as prior to the pill my skin was flawless. Its been a year now and my face is showing improvement but its changed forever. I think ppl should make the decisions themselves but its better to be warned then to know nothing at all!
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 9 years
i was on Yasmin for 7 months then my doctor randomly switched my perscription to Yaz... which isnt a biggie b/c they are basically the same just Yaz has like .01 mg less estrogen... I just started with Yaz... but on yasmin my mom noticed a change in my skin... she said I was glowing... but i can never notice a positive difference haha
sweety54992003 sweety54992003 9 years
I love Yasmin. I have been on it for a few years then stopped cause I didnt have health care for four months. I started to break out again and it was horrible. I love this birth control and what it has done for me no breakout, no water weight gain during that time and my periods are always the same day every month plus no cramps and my periods only last two or three days with very little bleeding. So it does wonders for me.
martharose martharose 9 years
I have taken Yasmin and spironolactone for a year or so and it keeps my face clear. I'm very surprised that the pill makes other sugars have mood swings and gain weight, It has the opposite effect on me! Spirolactone is a diuretic so maybe that helps control water weight? Though 27 is a small control group I think dermatologist have been using this combo for some time. I have taken everything including Accutane. I tried a new Derma. and he prescribed this and it was a godsend!
sugarginger sugarginger 9 years
let the acne grow... when it is the time, the acne will disappear voluntarily..
inertia inertia 9 years
The side effects I had from the Pill weren't worth it. I tried 2 different kinds and they both caused terrible depression and made me gain about 10 lbs. Furthermore, before I tried the Pill, my cycle was so regular you could set a clock by it. It never returned to normal and even 10 years after stopping, my cycle is still off by as much as 2 weeks sometimes. I'll never take hormonal birth control again.
JessNess JessNess 9 years
A medical/scientific report should never have been published with only 27 in the test group. It is not a good representative sample. I can't believe that a journal would be willing to publish results with such a small group
JessNess JessNess 9 years
Im a bigger believer in limiting what you put in your body in terms of medication. With so many great products out there now to control acne the pill should be the absolute last option. There are women who are on the pill for a long time for whatever reason and then when they decided to have kids they have a difficult time since they have been controlling their cycles with hormones. I just plan on not taking the pill until I need it to prevent getting pregnant.
pixelhaze pixelhaze 9 years
i always thought i had really good skin, but i've been on the pill since i was very young (15). About a year ago I went off it because my prescription expired and i was on foreign exchange so i couldn't renew it right away. My skin went haywire. So it turns out i don't have good skin, ive just always been on the pill. But now im afraid to ever go off it.
TrickyTara627 TrickyTara627 9 years
the weight gain i experienced on the pill completely overshadowed any other benefits...i swear it makes you retain water and swell up like a blowfish!
Leanne1078 Leanne1078 9 years
I have to say that even though it did help my acne when I was on it, it also made me a crazy bitch and it made me gain tons of weight. Now that I've figured out I have an estrogen imbalance and am treating it naturally, I will never go back to the pill and am having good results with a good skincare line and natural supplements. The pill is just not worth it. It took me TWO YEARS to get my body back to normal after I stopped taking it.
motherhelen motherhelen 9 years
I have used the regimen of Spironolactone and birth control for the past year to manage acne and have been VERY pleased with the results. Prior to that regimen I had sunk a fortune in my skin with expensive skincare regimens, monthly facials, Zeno, and courses of antibiotics. I was ready to do Accutane, but this route has worked for me and my skin looks gorgeous without makeup and side-effects.
Anaiva Anaiva 9 years
I've been on the pill for almost 3 months and my skin has improved a lot. The only time I tend to break out is before/during my period. I haven't had any other side affects really except mood swings now and then. I'm pretty content considering all the other kinds of symptoms most women report.
Gamine Gamine 9 years
I was on Yasmin a couple of years ago and I loved it. Unlike the pill I tried before it, it was completely reliable-- no spotting whatsoever. My doctor put me on it in the knowledge that I would be using them to reduce my periods to 4 times a year because I'm slightly anaemic and have terrible cramps. Studies have said that fewer periods can reduce the chances of ovarian cancer and sited that our foremothers had fewer periods because they had more children and breastfed them longer. I'd rather take the pill. As a bonus, my skin seemed less oily, I had fewer breakouts, and my breasts grew.
emalove emalove 9 years
I've been on the Pill for 14 years (since I was about 16 years old). I've never had any problems or side effects from it. And I've never had acne or skin problems, perhaps this is why?! I'm a big advocate of the Pill...the trick is just finding the right one for you and your body.
Lilavati Lilavati 9 years
27 women is not a serious study. The 7,4% means two women.
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
I just started Ortho-Tricyclen yesterday. When I was 18, I took Ortho-cept.. and it cleared up my skin immediately. That's why I am trying Tricyclen. I can't wait for clear skin again!
Dbtabm Dbtabm 9 years
The pill screwed up my body, and I tried 4 different kinds. I don't know if it will ever get back to normal. I will never use any kind of hormonal birth control again. My husband and I use condoms and are fine with that. I have 4 good friends who had the same thing happen to them and have made the same decision.
lily8206 lily8206 9 years
I think taking the pill is fantastic and am surprised so many sugars are still against it! On top of all those great Pro's that Bella listed it allows you to dictate when you have your period, allowing vacations and special occasions to be period free. I also frequently skip periods all together (you should only do this when using a monophasic pill), having on average 4 or 5 periods a year! It is safe and even suggested by many doctors. Dear Sugar gave some information on skipping periods using Birth Control here
TheStyleElite TheStyleElite 9 years
i take birth control pill just be cause it has the pirks of making your skin,nails and hair healthier and better. and when you get your period you or at least me i dont get creamps bloting nothing. its like a magic little pill:)
Tamanna Tamanna 9 years
I had been on Yazmin from '04 to '06 and while I loved being on it and saw wonderful hair and skin. My periods were short and crampless. I loved it. I decided to take a break from it for a year am losing hair drastically. My skin is still good but I have also figured out how to take care of it. I don't advise on taking pills just for good skin.
starbright14 starbright14 9 years
I am literally afraid to go off of Yaz. My life has changed dramatically... my cramps don't take over my life 3 days a month, and you can't beat it for convenience. I've been on the pill for about 3 years. Also, an IUD is the thing that totally freaks me out. My mom had one about 2 years ago, and it becaome dislodged from her uterus and was just "floating" around in her abdomen. If it had stayed much longer, it could have punctured her large intestine - yikes!
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