Acne and Birth Control Pills

Not all oral contraceptive pills are created equally. Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills (COCPs) consist of a synthetic estrogen (Ethinyl estradiol) combined with a progestin. “Progestin” is an umbrella term for synthetic progesterone that consists of multiple chemical structures that all have the capacity to act similarly to progesterone in the body.

Progestins however are not BIOIDENTICAL to progesterone (bioidentical= EXACT same biochemical structure), so they also have slight estrogenic and androgenic activity too. Not all progestin structures are created equally, with some having more potent progestogenic effects and others with more potent androgenic effects – just to clarify, androgenic = testosterone activity

Some COCPs with progestins that have higher androgenic side effects are: Loestrin, Estrostep, Levelen, Allesse, Ovral, Norlestrin

The above listed COCPs are commonly used due to their low estrogen dose which gives them a better safety profile and are more tolerable, however if you naturally have higher androgens these COCPs can heighten your androgen activity resulting in an increase in acne, oily skin and increase hair growth on the chin, belly and pubic region.

If you are currently on a COCP and are struggling with side effects, please come in and talk to me! We can find a COCP that better fits your biochemistry, and/or talk about other options that are available for you.

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