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Do Hormonal IUDs (Mirena) Cause Acne?

The use of birth control devices has grown in popularity in recent years, owing to their effectiveness and ease of access. 

The Mirena IUD, on the other hand, can cause acne in some women. Following the insertion of an IUD, some women will experience acne breakouts. 

Although the exact cause of this is unknown, some speculate that it may be related to hormonal changes caused by Mirena. 

Please continue reading if you are considering getting an IUD or if you already have one to learn about the potential side effects of this birth control method!

What is an IUD & How Does it Work?

An IUD is a device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is a T-shaped device that sits inside the uterus. 

The primary hormone IUDs release progestin, which prevents pregnancy by making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to the lining of the uterus (implantation)— by keeping thick cervical mucus and making it hard for sperm to travel through the cervix and up into your uterus. 

They are safe and effective for most women. Many women use them as a long-term birth control solution. IUDs are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but they do not protect against STDs. An IUD can be taken out anytime you want to get pregnant or decide to no longer need it.

How does Mirena Work?

The intrauterine device Mirena releases a small amount of hormone, the progestin levonorgestrel. This is used to prevent pregnancy and help clear acne in some women by reducing excess oil production on their skin. 

Unfortunately, some doctors prescribe this contraceptive specifically for that purpose alone! 

If you do decide to give Mirena a try, make sure your doctor monitors how effective it is at preventing pregnancy before prescribing another type of birth control with it combined for more serious cases of hormonal acne treatment.

Does the IUD Cause Acne, or does Mirena Cause Acne?

The IUD can cause acne, but it is not likely. Mirena is the only hormonal IUD that contains progestin which may worsen pre-existing acne or even produce new breakouts. It is also worth noting that emergency contraceptive medication also contains a high dose of progestin, which can also trigger acne breakouts.

In addition, acne might be caused by inflammation around your hair follicles due to high levels of prostaglandins. This will change hormone production and decrease sebum production in women who are prone to both conditions. 

If you have a history of either condition, make sure your doctor knows about it before using an IUD as a long-term birth control solution. In addition, pregnancy hormones could increase this risk further if present during pregnancy days 20 – 40 (the implantation window).

Risks of Acne with IUDs & Mirena 

Mirena is also associated with other side effects, which should be considered. Most common are ovarian cysts and uterine cramps, followed by irregular menstrual bleeding/ spotting; nausea; headache; breast pain or tenderness (mastalgia); mood changes such as depression or anxiety; acne flare-ups in some women. 

Mirena may also cause dangerous blood clots to form in your legs (deep vein thrombosis), lungs (pulmonary embolism), and eyes (thromboembolic retinopathy). 

Other rare but severe complications of the IUDs during pregnancy include miscarriage, septic abortion, preterm labor and delivery, low birth weight infants due to early placenta detachment, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Pro’s & Con’s of using an IUD or Mirena for birth control

One of the most common concerns is whether an IUD or Mirena can cause acne. You may have heard a friend mention that their sister’s skin cleared up after they started using birth control, and you wonder if it could be related to your problem with acne. 

The truth is, there have not been any studies confirming this association between hormonal contraception and breakouts, but some dermatologists do believe that there might be a connection between these two things.

A few pros are:

  • Highly successful in preventing pregnancy
  • Reasonably priced
  • Great for married couples

A few cons are: 

  • Can cause side-effects such as acne

Takeaway

Now that you know what IUDs are and how they work, you might better understand why many women choose this form of birth control. In addition to being extremely safe, it also has the added benefits of helping with menstrual cramps and reducing spotting during your cycle. 

In addition, there is no hormonal disruption in the body like there is with other forms of contraceptives such as pills or patches. 

When choosing which method best fits us, we must consider all factors, whether for cosmetic purposes or health reasons!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Gynecologists Help with Acne?

Gynos may specialize in acne treatment, but they can also help with an IUD. However, since acne is not a common side effect of IUD, seeing an endocrinologist may be more helpful.

What are the Side Effects of Mirena?

Potential side effects include ovarian cysts, headache or dizziness, breast pain or tenderness, nausea/vomiting, and temporary depression. Rarely reported severe complications to have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

How can Progesterone Help my Acne Breakouts?

It does this by reducing the amount of testosterone that is produced in women. This makes sure that you have less oil production, which will reduce your chances of getting a breakout.

Need more help? Ask our team!

I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision.

Read more of Sam's articles.

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