Many women experience acne 2-6 months after stopping the oral contraceptive pill (OCP). The degree to which you may experience acne varies and depends on numerous factors, and sometimes it’s just pure bad luck.
The OCP changes the way our bodies natural hormones function and the way in which they are produced. When you cease using the OCP your body can struggle to find hormonal balance, start making hormones again, and relearning to ovulate. On a side note, ovulation is not just important for making a baby. It’s also super important for producing and regulating hormones, reducing inflammation, regulating immune function, and supporting other organs within your body.
So why exactly do some women experience post-pill acne?
This is a rebound response to the effects of the synthetic hormones found in the OCP. These hormones suppress sebum, your skins natural healthy oil, and is why a lot of women experience dry skin while on the OCP. When these synthetic hormones are no longer stopping their production your skin responds by upregulating/ increasing sebum production. Why does our skin do this? It’s because sebum is actually vital for the health of your skin. It forms part of the acid mantle which is the protective layer. This protective layer stops bacteria and pathogens from entering your skin, it provides a home for beneficial microbes and maintains your skin’s pH (all important functions for fighting off signs of ageing, acne, pigmentation and any other skin condition!). While on the OCP your skin is under stress and your body simple wants to restore proper function.
OCP’s also deplete nutrients that are important for many different functions within your body and skin. This may be due to the pill altering their absorption. Antioxidants vitamin C and E help to protect the skin from oxidative damage, UV damage, inflammation, and are needed for collagen production. Folic acid and vitamin B12 are needed for detoxification and can reduce acne and pimples. Zinc is needed for the production of stomach acid and the proper digestion of food. It also has an anti-androgen effect, helping to inhibit dihydrotestosterone, reducing acne, skin inflammation and infections.
Should I just stay on the OCP?
The OCP has had some amazing benefits for women in allowing us to have more say over our bodies and control unwanted pregnancies. It can also be amazing in helping reduce heavy periods for women who struggle with endometriosis.
What the OCP does not do is balance or fix hormones. It stops them and essentially puts you into a menopausal state. The OCP also switches off ovulation reducing the many necessary and positive effects of ovulation. The synthetic hormones also have their own side effects of reduced sex drive, insulin resistance, depression, anxiety, irritability, headaches, acne, hair loss and blood clots. OCP also alter your gut and vaginal microflora, they can reduce bone density and lead to increased risk of cervical dysplasia, breast cancer and autoimmune disease, and they also deplete nutrients such as zinc.
So firstly, if you were on the pill for contraception then you need to consider your options for birth control.
Secondly, if you are considering coming off the OCP it is best to speak to a naturopath first, particularly if you had acne before going on the pill. Women who are put on the pill at are younger age as an acne treatment are at the highest risk of post-pill acne, but it can happen to anyone.
With my experience working as a beauty therapist and naturopath, helping you achieve clear skin is what I do best. External treatments in conjunction with internal nutrition and herbal medicine can make your post-pill journey much smoother. But for those with a history of acne, it is important to start treatment before you stop the OCP to reduce your risk of server breakouts. My treatments address not only your symptoms reducing skin breakouts and redness with the use of natural, organic skincare but also the underlying drivers, focusing on what’s going on internally to speed up the healing process.
Want to find out more?
To learn more about your skin and reduce acne severity, book your naturopath consultation today. Complementary health chats are also available to assess whether naturopathy is right for you