Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Birth Control for Acne

Benefits of Birth Control for Acne

Several clinical trials have shown that taking combination birth control pills can result in:

  • Decreased acne flare-ups
  • Fewer pimples
  • Less inflammation
  • Less severe acne

Many women with severe acne take oral contraceptives with other acne treatments. For women who also want contraception, taking birth control pills for acne also offers one of the most reliable forms of contraception, as long as the pills are taken on schedule as prescribed.

Risks of Oral Contraceptives

Today's birth control pills contain lower doses of estrogen and progesterone than in the past. This has significantly lowered their medical risks. Still, women taking oral contraceptives do have a higher risk of side effects, including heart attack, stroke, and dangerous blood clots in the legs or lungs.

Other risks include:

Who Should Avoid Birth Control Pills

A decision to take birth control pills needs to take into account your medical history. Certain medical conditions could become worse if you use an oral contraceptive. Birth control pills are usually not advised if you have any of the following conditions:

You also shouldn't take oral contraceptives if:

Tips for Maximum Benefit

Here are tips for getting the most benefit from your acne treatment:

  • Continue taking other acne treatment prescribed by your doctor. An oral contraceptive targets only part of the acne problem.
  • Be sure to precisely follow the schedule for taking birth control pills. Doing so provides the maximum benefit and safety.
  • Talk with your doctor about possible side effects of the birth control you're considering. These can include breast tenderness, headaches, breakthrough bleeding, or an initial, temporary flare-up of acne. It's important to know what to expect.
  • Tell your doctor about any other medications you're taking. Some can interfere with the effectiveness of an oral contraceptive and lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Taking some types of birth control pill together with oral tetracycline (an antibiotic) may make it necessary to use a back-up form of contraception.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on September 15, 2015
1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Girl with acne
See if you know how to control your acne.
happy woman with clear skin
Triggers and treatments for blackheads, whiteheads, and cystic acne.
Bride with acne
Dos and don’ts for hiding breakouts.
close-up of a young man soaping his face
Why adults get acne and how to treat it.
Boy cleaning acne face
HPV Vaccine Future
beauty cream
Bride with acne
Woman applying mineral makeup
Arrows pointing on teen girl blemish