Using contraceptive methods for the skin can be very useful, beyond its usual use to prevent pregnancy. In the treatment of certain pathologies such as acne, hair loss with a female pattern, and hirsutism, they have shown efficiency.
There are different forms of contraception, however, all of them generate both beneficial and harmful effects in the most superficial layers of the skin layer. That is why we clarify the subject in this article and we urge you to consult with a specialist if you have doubts.
What can be the effects of contraceptives on the skin?
According to studies conducted by the Australian family physician, contraceptives can affect the skin in three different ways:
- They decrease the amount of androgen hormones produced in the ovaries and the adrenal gland.
- They limit the amount of circulating testosterone, especially the active biological form, which is what culminates in producing specific effects.
- They reduce the estrogen present in the body, which affects the production of sebum by the sebaceous glands.
Contraceptives can also have negative effects on the skin. The appearance of spots is one of the unwanted reactions, especially with exposure to ultraviolet rays without adequate sunscreen protection.
That is, contraceptives on the skin can cause or worsen melasma, a condition in which brown and irregular patches occur in the region above the upper lip, on the forehead, and on the cheeks. There is a variety of this pathology that is linked to pregnancy, denoting the hormonal component of it.
Types of Contraceptives and Their Effects on the Skin
Hormone levels vary in every woman’s body, so it is hard to tell what side effects will come about as a result of using birth control. In any case, there are some that have already been registered on various occasions and are considered common.
The main reason acne develops in puberty is because the male sex hormone is produced in large quantities during the development of adolescence. Not only in boys, but also in girls.
Inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne may improve in women who use birth control pills as a method. These drugs contain female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone), thus counteracting androgens.
However, most birth control pills have not been specifically approved for treating acne. There are also non-hormonal approaches that can help, some of which have fewer side effects.
Monthly or Quarterly Injection
A single contraceptive injection of those formulated today can work for up to 90 days. They are applied to the deltoid muscles (upper arm) or the buttocks.
Injectable contraceptives, both hormonal combined and progestin- only, offer safe and effective reversible contraception. They have gained ground of use due to their practicality and the possibility of not forgetting the daily doses, which is a problem in the form of pills.
These drugs generate an improvement in acne due to the decrease in the activity of the sebaceous glands. The explanation is the same as for oral pills.
IUD (Intrauterine Device)
Copper intrauterine devices are among those that do not contain hormones, along with condoms, natural, surgical, or behavioral methods. Therefore, they do not generate changes in the skin.
The hormonal IUD, on the other hand, is one that releases a limited amount of progestin into the body while it is in use in the womb. Therefore, it is capable of generating changes in the production of sebum.
Subdermal contraceptive implants cause continuous progestin release. This is a small bar that is placed under the skin, in most cases in the upper arm region.
The effects that progestin produces in the dermis are not as clear as those that estrogen produces. However, progesterone implants lead to an increase in the vasculature and increased production of sebum.
This method consists of a clear, flexible ring made of polyethylene or vinyl acetate that, once inserted into the vagina, slowly expels estrogen hormones and progestin from the body. In this way, it prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs in each menstrual cycle.
In patients who have used for extended periods thus contraception, it has demonstrated marked improvement in acne lesions. Again, it is the hormonal component that is to blame for the beneficial effect.
Morning After Pill
This type of emergency contraception is intended to prevent pregnancy after a woman has had unprotected sex or her contraceptive method has failed. It is used after the act and not before, like the others.
Because this pill is high in progestin, its effect is different. It can have steroid qualities because it undergoes chemical processes in the body, leading to breakouts and skin that releases excess sebum than expected.
Use contraceptives for the skin?
According to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, although antibiotics can be longer than 3 months in their effect on acne, oral contraceptives are equivalent to these drugs at 6 months to reduce skin lesions. This denotes the great potential of use and employment that they have in dermatology.
Therefore, skin contraceptives may be a better first-line alternative to antibiotics in the specific long-term treatment of acne in women. This is part of their use as a method of contraception, taking advantage of this secondary benefit.
You can consult a dermatologist if it is not a suitable option for you. The risks and degree of acne you have will be evaluated to determine the approach.