From ovarian cysts to bacterial vaginosis, IUDs (intrauterine devices) have very real side effects.
One of the most common side effects I see in my clients in The Clear Skin Solution is acne.
Despite this, many women love using an IUD because it’s a highly effective form of contraception.
So can IUDs cause acne or help clear the skin? I’m going to tackle this popular question below.
Before we dive into the connection between IUDs and acne, here’s a breakdown of the two main types of IUDs.
The four hormonal IUDs you can choose from are Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena and Skyla. While they each last for different lengths of time, they all work the same way and have the same kind of hormone in them.
Hormonal IUDs release a synthetic form of progesterone called progestin into the uterus. Progestin reduces the risk of pregnancy because it makes the mucus on the cervix thicker, which inhibits sperm from reaching an egg. This hormone can stop ovulation as well. Meaning, an egg isn’t released from the ovaries so the sperm can’t fertilize it.
Moral of the story: no egg = no pregnancy.
The only brand of copper IUD is called Paragard. This type of IUD doesn’t use hormones to lower the chance of pregnancy. Non-hormonal IUDs use copper instead. The copper wire wrapped around the IUD creates an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to sperm and eggs, which prevents pregnancy.
Both the hormonal and copper IUDs can contribute to acne, especially if you’re already prone to breakouts.
The progestin found in the hormonal IUD can increase androgen hormones (male hormones that are usually found in small amounts in women). Too many androgen hormones such as testosterone, DHEA and DHT can stimulate the sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum (oil). This leads to clogged pores because the oil is stuck inside of them. Then, bacteria grows in these pores. This sparks an immune response because the bacteria are viewed as foreign invaders. Ultimately, this results in swelling, redness and inflammatory acne.
Even though the copper IUD doesn’t release hormones, it can still aggravate acne. It can do so for two reasons. First up, the copper IUD can reduce levels of zinc in the blood. Zinc is an important mineral for clear skin and a deficiency can lead to acne. The copper IUD also produces inflammation in the uterus, which can trigger inflammation throughout the rest of the body too. Chronic inflammation is at the core of acne.
For a lot of women, acne can also pop up after switching from the birth control pill to an IUD. This condition is known as “rebound acne.” Although, it can be hard to decipher whether the breakouts are a result of post-pill acne or the IUD. Here’s one possible explanation:
Most birth control pills contain a combination of hormones (estrogen and progestin) that can help lower androgen levels and thus, reduce acne. When you transition from the pill to an IUD, both of these hormones are replaced with only progestin (hormonal IUD) or no hormones (copper IUD). Both options can result in acne.
Clearing the skin while using the birth control pill or an IUD can be quite challenging. That’s why you need to work with an experienced practitioner.
Consider joining us in The Clear Skin Solution. For clients using the pill or an IUD, my team of acne experts help them to repair the gut, support detox pathways, balance hormones, manage stress levels and replenish nutrient deficiencies. We can also create a tailored approach with specific supplements for your issue. These are all important steps for clearing the skin for good.
If you’re considering getting off the birth control pill or removing an IUD, talk to your partner and/or doctor about the best method for you.
Fortunately, there are several natural birth control methods you can try to prevent pregnancy. Common methods like condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps are easier to master. But the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) like the temperature, mucous and calendar methods require you to be more diligent. Here is a rundown of the effectiveness of each option:
If you don’t want to remove your IUD, consider using the copper IUD rather than a hormonal IUD. The copper IUD is less likely to contribute to acne because it doesn’t contain hormones.