Something strange happened to me recently.
My skin got so extremely bad that I felt like the hormonal teenager I was ten years ago.
I thought I left that troublesome complexion behind after two gruelling rounds of Roaccutane (an effective but harsh treatment), countless facial treatments, and adopting a saintly skincare regime including thorough regular cleansing, retinol masks and hyaluronic acids serums.
Yet here I was with painful acne cropping up all around my jawline, even on my neck.
I needed to do something about it. It was making me so miserable and my man noticed. He suggested I take out my new contraceptive implant and I was keen since I had began to explore more natural ways of living and wellbeing.
I’d had the Nexplanon stick fitted in my arm for three years before putting the new one in and while contemplating getting it replaced, I’d seriously considered coming off it completely.
The contraceptive implant works by releasing a steady stream of the progestin hormone into the blood to halt egg production. There may be a boost of this hormone when you first get it fitted while your body gets used to the implant. This may explain especially bad skin when you get a new one fitted, like my recent experience.
This clever gizmo had served me with three blissful years of period-free sexual freedom with my man, but I was recently feeling a little more Earth Child; a little more inspired by my best friends who track their cycles with an app as a form of birth control.
And I had begun to question… what were all those hormones really doing to me? They had fully stopped my periods. Was this okay or not really?
Well the jury’s out on the various effects of this birth control with some saying they could help protect against cancer, but one thing for sure is this: It affects your skin.
According to a study in the Journal of Drugs & Dermatology of more than 2,000 women with acne who were on hormonal birth control, the little plastic stick which is implanted on the upper side of your inner arm is actually the worst possible form of contraception you can choose in terms of worsening skin.
When I found out while researching this article, I could not believe it.
I’d been going to such huge efforts to banish blemishes for about 15 years yet there I was choosing this method of birth control, unknowingly.
Other forms of birth control found to worsen acne include the hormonal IUD (coil) and depot injection; but the Nexplanon stick implant was the worst.
So are you like me and want to change your contraception and heal your skin.
Once you take your implant out, it can take months for your hormones to rebalance and your skin can still be really bad during this time.
You can move on to a combined oral contraceptive containing helpful drospirenone, such as Yasmin or Yaz, or the NuvaRing vaginal ring. These have a reputation for being the best birth control methods for helping to clear bad skin. Luckily Yasmin and Yaz are are two of the most popular contraceptive pills in Singapore so you’re likely to be able to get a prescription.
I’m personally thinking about going totally hormone-free by using condoms and the withdrawal method (not failsafe, of course!) until I can move on to using a period tracker app once I get into a normal period cycle after a few months.
The most popular app is called Clue and it’s all the rage at the moment. Another app, Eve is made by the same developer but includes a fun sex-tracker as an added feature. These apps require a lot more hands-on interaction and awareness - you can’t just download them and forget about them, like you can once you insert an implant.
You MUST use all contraception methods properly for them to work and none is 100 percent safe. I recommend chatting to your GP or a family planning expert for advice before making any decisions.
The contraceptive implant is one of the safest, most reliable and low-maintenance long-term birth control methods. It’s perfect for busy women who really don’t want a baby for the next few years.
But if your skin is breaking out so bad that it’s ruining your life, is it really worth it?