Accutane and the Female Experience

I started on Accutane a year ago, and was on it for seven months. As someone who had dealt with acne for over seven years, I was tired of it. I had acne on my face, chest, and back, and it was beginning to affect my confidence. My face hurt all the time, and it seemed like none of the endless treatments I tried were helping. I made an appointment with my dermatologist, and we made an action plan. 

I explained to her how I really wanted to do something to get rid of my acne. I didn't care what we did, it just needed to work. She explained to me that there were a few treatments we could do, but she recommended that I start with the less aggressive one: antibiotics. I was on them for four months, and though my acne cleared up a bit, I wasn’t a hundred percent satisfied with the results.

This was when she suggested I try Accutane. This treatment would take three to seven months, but I would experience the most substantial change. 

For women, getting on Accutane is pretty difficult. One of the biggest side effects of the treatment is that if you get pregnant mid treatment, there is a high risk for birth defects to develop. This is why there are certain guidelines in place for women to follow while on Accutane.

First, there are a few documents that you have to read over (each explaining the gravity of the treatment) and sign. Before my doctor was able to prescribe me the pills, I had to take two blood tests each a month apart. This was to ensure that I was not pregnant (and to make sure that my body was functioning properly). 

Once all my labs came back, and my doctor was able to go over them and deem me in good condition, she made me sign up for iPledge. The program essentially keeps track of your treatment. After this, I was  required to choose two forms of birth control (one is not enough) or stay abstinent. 

iPledge is a website that doctors and pharmacists use to make sure that you are following all the necessary guidelines of the treatment. Each month, before my doctor could prescribe my medication, I would have to do both blood and pregnancy tests to prove that I was not pregnant. There is a calendar on iPledge which marks the days when you are required to do your monthly blood and pregnancy tests. These tests need to be performed almost exactly a month apart, so the website is really helpful to make sure that you don’t fall behind. Once my labs and tests came back well, my doctor would then certify me on iPledge, after which I would be required to answer a few questions. These questions are intended to remind you of the severity of the treatment, and to ensure that you won’t get pregnant mid treatment. 

Once you complete all these steps, your doctor will send in your prescription, after which you only have seven days to pick it up. If you don’t get your medicine within the seven days, you have to do the whole certification again. 

I was on 30 mg twice a day for seven months, and I saw a huge change. My face, chest and back cleared up (and so did a lot of my scarring). 

Even though the treatment required a lot of work to stay on it and caused me to have to battle some side effects, the outcomes were worth it. My skin felt healthier, and I felt more confident in my own skin.