Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are an effective form of long-term birth control. They are a convenient and low-maintenance form of contraception that lasts anywhere between 3 to 10 years, depending on the brand. While some people believe that they clear up acne, there have also been accounts of IUDs causing acne breakouts. Learn all about the link between IUDs and acne below!
In This Article
What Is An IUD? What Does It Look Like?
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a popular form of birth control. They work by preventing the sperm from fertilizing the egg, hence reducing the chances of pregnancy. The popularity of IUD is a result of its effectiveness. The chances of getting impregnated with an IUD is less than a percent. They also have the least possibility of human error as compared to other forms of contraception like condoms, birth control pills, etc. (1).
An IUD is usually a T-shaped, quarter-sized plastic device fitted through the cervical canal and the uterus cavity. It can be left in anywhere between 3 to 10 years. IUDs are classified on the basis of whether they have copper wiring around the plastic or contain progestin, which is a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone.
Learn about the different types of IUDs in the next section.
What Are The Types Of IUDs?
There are two main types of IUD:
1. Non-Hormonal IUD
Non-hormonal IUDs are popularly known as Copper T as they do not contain hormones. As its name suggests, it uses copper as its function by not allowing the sperm to fertilize the egg hence preventing pregnancy. Copper IUDs also work as an emergency contraceptive. The most well-known and approved Copper T brand is ParaGard.
2. Hormonal IUD
Hormonal IUDs release a hormone called progestin that makes the cervical mucus thick in consistency. This makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg for fertilization. Moreover, progestin helps in thinning the uterus lining for double protection.
The most popular brands of hormonal IUD are:
Now, let’s move on to the most important question.
Do IUDs Clear Up Or Actually Cause Acne?
IUDs stir up controversy when it comes to their relationship with acne. They have mixed reviews amongst their users. Some women who have used copper IUDs claim to have not shown any reaction of acne breakouts or flare-ups. It could be because copper IUDs do not contain hormones like progestin the way hormonal IUDs do.
A lot of the talk regarding acne is related to hormonal IUDs, which contain hormones like progestin (that converts into progesterone) and different types of testosterone that pave the way for cystic acne (2).
There have been cases where women with no history of acne experienced a sudden acne breakout after getting an IUD. After the removal of the IUD, their skin cleared up and stopped showing any acne signs (2). However, it is important to remember that not a lot of research has been conducted on the link between IUDs and acne, so we cannot draw a concrete conclusion.
Understanding The Connection Between IUDs And Acne
The possibility of an acne reaction caused by an IUD is low, but there are exceptions. Women who change their birth control method from oral contraceptives to IUD may experience acne breakouts. Birth control pills usually contain estrogen and progestin, which work in combination to reduce acne. Switching to an IUD that only contains progestin may cause your skin to produces too much oil and causes breakouts. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove the same.
Also, women who get breakouts before their periods may experience acne after the insertion of the IUD.
Here are the different types of IUD and their risks associated with acne:
- Copper IUDs: Copper IUDs do not cause acne after insertion. Since they are free from hormones, the chances of breakouts or aggravation of acne are lower.
- Hormonal IUDs: Hormonal IUDs could be challenging for women who already have acne. People with acne are found to have larger sebaceous glands and are affected by hormones like testosterone and androgen. Hormonal IUD contains progestin, which has a tendency to give rise to androgenic activities. This leads to excess oil production, clogging of pores, and a sudden acne flare-up (2).
Many women wrongly conclude that their breakouts are a result of their IUD. Learn how to figure if a breakout is caused by acne below.
Identifying The Symptoms Of An IUD Breakout
To get a deeper understanding of the link between acne and an IUD, we must learn to recognize whether a breakout is the outcome of an IUD.
One of the ways to do so is by looking at the location and condition of your acne. If you find acne formations around your chin and jaw, then IUD may be a contributing factor.
Another sign would be the development of cystic acne when you have no history of acne in the past.
It is claimed that if your breakouts are linked to the insertion of an IUD, then you may see a significant decrease in their severity over time. But, if you were already had acne pre-insertion of the IUD, then its severity will not change. It will still persist the way it was before. However, it is important to note that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to prove any of these claims.
Now, let’s talk about how you can treat hormonal acne caused by an IUD.
How To Get Rid of Hormonal Acne Caused By An IUD
If your acne is linked with the insertion of an IUD, here are some things you can do to treat and prevent further hormonal breakouts:
1. Skin Care
A good skin care regimen can help you tackle your hormonal acne caused by an IUD. It is important to take constructive steps and enhance your skin care routine (3). You can incorporate the following steps in your skin care routine:
- Cleanse your face thoroughly twice a day.
- Try not to pick on your pimples or areas of inflammation.
- Experiment with chemical exfoliants. Using a chemical exfoliant once a week can help in unclogging your pores. After all, clogged pores are one of the main causes of acne.
- Use products containing retinol as they help in promoting collagen production, replacing old skin cells with new ones, and improving the overall texture of the skin (3).
Understanding that what you put into your body reflects on your skin is an old philosophy passed down through the ages. Making some changes in your diet can help you control your hormonal IUD-induced acne (4).
- Including plenty of vegetables in your diet.
- Cut down on foods that have high sugar content like white bread, soda, chips, etc.
- Add more low-glycemic foods into your diet, like fresh vegetables, beans, and oats.
3. Reduce Stress
Psychological stress plays a big hand in hormonal acne. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in stressful situations. The combination of hormones like progestin, estrogen, and cortisol creates an environment for cystic acne (5). Practice relaxation techniques and yoga to manage your stress.
If changing your routine and lifestyle seems to bring no change, consult a dermatologist and ask them to put you on medicines. Your dermatologist may prescribe oral medications like isotretinoin or minocycline or topical treatments like retinol, etc. (3).
In A Nutshell
Breakouts from an IUD can vary from person to person. Not everyone who uses an IUD develops acne. It is important to note that while there is a link between hormonal IUDs and acne, no such connection can be drawn with copper IUDs. Acne caused by an IUD can be treated like regular acne by making dietary changes and using prescribed medications.
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- Intrauterine Device
- Acne vulgaris in connection with the use of progestogens in a hormonal IUD
- The Role of Skin Care as an Integral Component in the Management of Acne Vulgaris
- Right Diet for Acne
- Study of psychological stress sebum production and acne vulgaris