The first thing you need to know is if your IUD causes acne. If it doesn’t then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get one. You may have heard that certain types of IUDs are known to cause some type of hormonal imbalance which results in acne. That isn’t true! There aren’t any studies done on the effects of different types of IUDs on the body and they don’t cause hormonal imbalances either. Some types of IUDs do cause weight gain but not enough to affect your hormones.
There are two main types of IUDs: Copper T and Mirena. Both are very effective methods of birth control and both work just like other forms of birth control such as condoms, diaphragms (a plastic tube inserted into the uterus), sponges, Depo-Provera shots, etc… They all prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation and fertilization. The only difference between them is that the copper IUD releases copper ions while the mirena releases a hormone called medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA).
These hormones cause uterine contractions which expel any developing embryos from the womb.
Acne is caused by testosterone, which is one of the main “male” hormones. It takes a lot more than normal amounts of this hormone to cause acne but it can be a factor for some people. Men obviously have much higher levels of this hormone and so do some women with irregular menstrual cycles and those who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
If you have either irregular periods or PCOS then Mirena may cause some acne because of the extra male hormone it releases. You can combat this by taking spironolactone (Aldactone) which is a drug that blocks the effects of androgenic hormones. It’ll help to clear up your acne but it has the side effect of causing slight loss of libido for some people.
The other type, the copper IUD shouldn’t cause any acne because it doesn’t contain any hormones.
If you’re using another form of birth control and are having irregular periods, excess hair growth or unexplained weight gain then you may want to switch to the copper IUD. It is a very reliable form of birth control and many women have seen an improvement in their PCOS when they switch from other contraceptives. Check with your doctor if you think this is the case for you.
If you don’t suffer from any of the above conditions and get normal periods then you shouldn’t have any problems with acne from an IUD. It’s certainly possible that your acne is a combination of genetics, stress and other factors but an IUD shouldn’t be one of them. It’s important to remember that having an IUD does not protect you from STIs (STDs) or HIV so please continue to use condoms as well.
They will also not protect you from unwanted pregnancy if the IUD fails so you’ll still need to take care to avoid having sexual relations at times when you’re at risk of getting pregnant.
You may want to talk to your doctor if the above information doesn’t completely put your mind at ease about getting an IUD. They may suggest that you take spironolactone (Aldactone) as well just to be extra safe from potential acne problems.
Sources & references used in this article:
Do IUDs Cause Acne? by M Trivedi – dermveda.com
LARC FIRST: what the general pediatrician needs to know about IUDs and contraceptive implants by C Dehlendorf, M Tharayil, N Anderson… – … on sexual and …, 2014 – Wiley Online Library
Efficacy and safety of long-acting reversible contraception by LD Wellisch, J Chor – Pediatric annals, 2013 – healio.com
Women’s Experiences with abortion due to contraceptive IUD failure by A Stoddard, C McNicholas, JF Peipert – Drugs, 2011 – Springer
Follow-Up After IUD Insertions: Managing IUD Expectations, Addressing Side Effects, and Providing Post-Insertion Counseling by B Wahyuni – 2000 – amma.socsci.uva.nl
Does It Get Any Worse Than Acne? It Does, Actually. An In-Depth Review of Accutane’s Regulatory History. by MS Coles – Optimizing IUD Delivery for Adolescents and Young …, 2019 – Springer
Review of priorities in research: hormonal contraception and IUDs and HIV infection: report of a technical meeting, Geneva, 13-15 March 2007 by BA Betts – 2020 – egrove.olemiss.edu