My Experience with Birth Control and Hormonal Acne

I’ve been on and off birth control since I was 15. While it has its obvious perks, it also has its downsides. Some forms of birth control cause weight gain, mood swings, heat flashes and the one thing I’ve had to deal with the most–acne.

The majority of my time on birth control was spent ritually taking a pill every night, which was great for my acne. In fact, many dermatologists prescribe oral birth control to treat it. As a girl who struggled with acne throughout her entire life, it was a lifesaver. No pregnancy and no breakouts, what else could a girl want?

Turns out, after a while, I wanted a change. College wrecked any routines I had in place, and I no longer found myself available to take my birth control at the same time every night. The day I realized I had accidentally skipped taking the pill for four days was the day I realized that I needed a change. Oral birth control had done wonders for my skin but was no longer serving its main purpose: birth control.

I spent days researching other forms of birth control and finally decided on the implant. A very small rod, called Nexplanon, was inserted under the skin on my left arm. I no longer had to worry about taking a pill every night, instead, the implant would release a small number of hormones on its own to prevent pregnancy. And, the best part of all, I would be covered for three years.

Courtesy of: New York Post


Nexplanon was the thing of dreams until it wasn’t.

While I had experienced reduced acne on oral birth control, it became worse than it ever was when my implant was inserted. Over the last nine months, I’ve suffered constant breakouts along my jawline but didn’t think much of it for a large majority of that time. I was told that it would take many months for my body to adjust to the new hormones the implant was rushing into my body and that I would experience minor side effects.

It was supposed to get better, but it didn’t. It only got worse.

It was only last month that I put the pieces together and realized that something wasn’t right. My acne had never been this bad, and nothing was improving. I tried everything: strict morning and night routines, cleansing masks, spin brushes.  Nothing made a difference in my acne.

Upon doing some research, I learned that I wasn’t experiencing just breakouts. I was experiencing hormonal acne, which was being caused by the “masculine” hormones being pumped into my body by my implant.

I booked an appointment with a dermatologist in the area, and she pointed me in the direction of several treatments. She told me that hormonal acne can’t be treated with normal acne treatments, because the cause is internal. While face wash routines might make a difference, they would never completely take my acne away. Nothing was to blame but my birth control.

But, I didn’t want to get my implant removed. I loved the ease that came with the implant. I didn’t have to worry about sticking to a schedule and remembering to take a pill every day; it was all taken care of for me. Even though I was experiencing terrible acne, the pros still outweighed the cons.

My dermatologist prescribed me spironolactone, a pill made for treating high blood pressure but also works to keep the hormones that cause my acne in check. She also recommended that I stick with my daily morning and night routine, which I follow from Belinda Selene on Youtube. I also use a charcoal face mask two to three times a week and cleanse my skin with a duvolle spin brush for a deeper clean.

If you’re someone like me who has been struggling with acne due to birth control, weigh the pros and cons as I did. If you end up choosing to continue on your current method like me, seek help from a dermatologist. Even though I love self-diagnosing, the only change I’ve seen came after I followed my dermatologist’s recommendations.

Acne is a very difficult thing to deal with, but there are always ways to deal with it. Don’t let it control you, take control of it.