There is such a stigma behind any female contraceptive – birth control pills being one of the most common. When I made the decision to go on birth control a year ago, there was a lot I didn’t know: retaining water weight, having irregular periods and fluctuating emotions were just some of the few side effects I did not expect.
That being said, however, birth control changed my life. I had suffered with pretty severe cystic acne from the time I was in sixth grade to the beginning of my junior year of college. I tried countless over-the-counter medications and creams, prescribed gels and natural DIY scrubs. When I tell you nothing worked, I mean nothing worked. While the journey to semi-clear skin was bumpy, my experience was well worth the struggles and anxiety that came along with it.
There is so much information spewed online about birth control pills – both correct and incorrect information. Since birth control affects each woman’s body differently, you should consult your doctor about your specific case before maintaining a clear image in your head about what it is like to be on the pill.
That being said, I wanted to share the positive and negative effects that came along with my birth control experience and what it is really like to be on the pill, mainly to clear up severe, cystic acne.
One Month In
The first month or so that I started taking birth control for my acne was a bit of a whirlwind. My period became much lighter and my skin started to become a little smoother. My scarring began to fade quite a bit, but I would still get pesky cystic breakouts around my jawline and chin.
My doctor told me that when treating acne with birth control pills, it can take up to six months till your hormones are regulated and can function properly. While the cystic acne on my face did not clear up as soon as expected, my body acne cleared up tremendously. I suffered from large lower back breakouts. I thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and that by summer, I would be able to wear tank tops and bikinis without covering my skin with concealer.
I never realized how much my acne effected my self-esteem until my skin actually started to clear up. It wasn’t until about the halfway to a year mark that things started to switch up on me.
Six Months In
My period was basically non-existent – I wasn’t complaining, though – but my acne had come back on my face almost just as bad as before. I had never been more confused. One of the biggest lessons I learned through taking birth control is that your body needs more time to adjust than you may think, and there is no set time table for your body to follow.
I began using prescribed creams yet again to help combat my cystic breakouts and nothing seemed to work. I think people take for granted having naturally clear and smooth skin. My acne made me feel trapped, and the thought of taking a pill every day that did more harm than good made me borderline depressed.
I wore makeup every day and would never let the world see me without it – not even my family and close friends. My body acne cleared up, but my face was still covered in painful, red cystic bumps that seemed to swell at the touch.
My Skin Today
After trial and error and having been on the pill for exactly a year now, I can see that my body is finally starting to work with me and not against me. Everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s experience with birth control is different. While my doctor said the average timespan for a woman’s hormones to regulate is about six months after starting the pill, I did not see any real consistent change till the one year mark.
My skin still isn’t perfect. I have scars planted across my face that will probably take years to fade. However, my skin is the best it has been in years. I quit using the medicated creams and started to keep my skincare routine pretty simple: moisturizing face wash and Pond’s face cream in the morning and night. Birth control also made my skin a little dry, so I started taking Olly’s Vibrant Skin Plump Vitamins. They helped bring the life back to my skin and helped my scarring fade in the process.
Other Side Effects To Be Aware Of
I do not regret starting birth control – if anything I regret not starting it sooner. However, there were some other side effects that came along with my birth control experience. I retain water weight now more than ever and can get a very emotional when I am due to get my period.
I did not suffer from any serious side effects, but again, everyone is different and what worked for my body might not work for someone else.
With one year down my period is regulated, and my skin is getting clearer by the day. I am still working on becoming a better and more confident me. I am still reluctant to go out in public without makeup on and that’s okay. Everyone has insecurities, and so many people suffer with acne. It is okay to take steps towards clearer skin and it is okay to look into birth control for any reason.
The only stigma that should be placed around birth control is that it is a life saver for women in so many ways. Without starting birth control, I couldn’t even imagine what my skin would look like or where I would be today.