Oral Contraceptive
Reviews
3.5
1211 Reviews
Oral Contraceptive
Efficacy
56%
Based on All Available Studies
Strength of Evidence
1
2
3
4
5
Note: Improvement significantly increases after 24 weeks.
Oral Contraceptive
Side Effects
High
Oral Contraceptive
Acne.org’s Real World Take
All oral contraceptives appear to clear the skin about the same amount. Some people report cessation of acne symptoms and others see partial relief. However, messing with hormones is messing with hormones and it’s best to proceed with caution. But if you’re looking to take the birth control pill anyway, one of the benefits is clearer skin.
Oral Contraceptive
How to Get It
Have a dermatologist? Make an appointment to get this medication.

Don't have a dermatologist? See The American Academy of Dermatology Physician Database to find one.
Read All About Norgestimate (Ortho Tri-Cyclen)
5
22.5%
4
33.4%
3
20.8%
2
13.9%
1
9.4%

Used Norgestimate (Ortho Tri-Cyclen)? Rate It:

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November 3, 2020
Sprintec AKA Ortho Tri-Cyclen for PCOS hormonal acne

I'm writing this review as someone who has suffered with acne for years, and has recently found relief, in hopes that it will make someone else hopeful & consider hormonal birth control. The hormonal birth control pill was not a solution I'd considered with any seriousness until recently. Sprintec/Ortho Tri-Cyclen may not be the right birth control for you, but it has been miraculous for me in just four weeks of use. Since I began taking it about a month ago, my skin has become less oily, less reactive, and less inflamed. While I'm still getting occasional acne, the size and severity of the breakouts are minimal compared to what I'm used to experiencing. The whiteheads and pimples now are smaller, singular (rather than clusters), and easily treated with Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5%.

Based on my acne type, I believe my acne is related to PCOS (Poly Cycstic Ovary Syndrome) which is a set of reproductive and hormonal symptoms that affects between 5-10% of people with ovaries, and is often characterized by increased androgen production (the type of hormone that is generally related to acne). In me, this looks like very oily skin, inflamed and irritated skin, and hirsutism (hairy chin, jawline, stomach, and chest). My acne concentrates around my mouth, chin, and temples. I also get a little bit on my shoulders and chest. My acne is always worse in the second phase of my cycle--after ovulation and before menstruation. But in general, I experienced new acne almost every day of the month.  My frustration over acne, which got better and then got worse as I entered my mid-twenties, caused me anger, upset, and grief. I've been suffering from acne since I was 13 years old, at which point I was put on hormonal birth control for the first time.

There are other hormonal treatments for PCOS: Sprionolactone is probably the most popular that's available in the US. However, it comes with a number of side effects, and its not a permanent solution. Birth control pills are cheap, accessible, and can be stopped at any point. 

There are generally four classes of birth control pill: the third and fourth classes, which are the most recently developed, are considered the most "anti-androgenic." This means they act to counter or suppress the production of androgenic hormones, like testosterone, that cause acne (as well as hirsutism). In other countries, there are birth control pills that are far more anti-androgenic than those that are available to users in the US. Of the birth control pills available in the United States, ones containing drosperinone--brand names like Yaz or Yasmin--are the most anti-androgenic. However, they are also highly related to depression, which I have had in the past. I didn't want to take that risk. So my doctor prescribed me Sprintec, which is a generic form of Ortho Tri-Cyclen, which contains the synthetic form of progrestin called Norgestimate. It is one of only a few birth control pills that are designated to treat acne in the US and Canada.

Four weeks later, and my skin is dryer, softer, and clear. I wake up and my face is not oily, irritated, or broken out.

I've also decided to take my birth control continuously, rather than cyclically. This means rather than taking a week's worth of placebo pills each month, I skip the placebo pills at the end of the pack (and the associated period), and start a new pack immediately. This means my hormones don't fluctuate. Doctors recommend getting your period at least every three months, which means I'll probably take 9 weeks of the hormonal pills, then one week of placebo pills, which will give me a period once every ten weeks. I'm choosing this over the standard cyclical use of birth control so that there is less fluctuation, and assuming my old symptoms will show up during the placebo week, which I'd like to limit as much as possible. I also take my pill at the same time every evening.

If you're reading this--there's hope for you. Acne sucks. I've cried over it for too long. I feel free at last from the anxiety and hopelessness that it induced in me, and want the same for you.

November 3, 2020
Sprintec AKA Ortho Tri-Cyclen for PCOS hormonal acne

I'm writing this review as someone who has suffered with acne for years, and has recently found relief, in hopes that it will make someone else hopeful & consider hormonal birth control. The hormonal birth control pill was not a solution I'd considered with any seriousness until recently. Sprintec/Ortho Tri-Cyclen may not be the right birth control for you, but it has been miraculous for me in just four weeks of use. Since I began taking it about a month ago, my skin has become less oily, less reactive, and less inflamed. While I'm still getting occasional acne, the size and severity of the breakouts are minimal compared to what I'm used to experiencing. The whiteheads and pimples now are smaller, singular (rather than clusters), and easily treated with Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5%.

Based on my acne type, I believe my acne is related to PCOS (Poly Cycstic Ovary Syndrome) which is a set of reproductive and hormonal symptoms that affects between 5-10% of people with ovaries, and is often characterized by increased androgen production (the type of hormone that is generally related to acne). In me, this looks like very oily skin, inflamed and irritated skin, and hirsutism (hairy chin, jawline, stomach, and chest). My acne concentrates around my mouth, chin, and temples. I also get a little bit on my shoulders and chest. My acne is always worse in the second phase of my cycle--after ovulation and before menstruation. But in general, I experienced new acne almost every day of the month.  My frustration over acne, which got better and then got worse as I entered my mid-twenties, caused me anger, upset, and grief. I've been suffering from acne since I was 13 years old, at which point I was put on hormonal birth control for the first time.

There are other hormonal treatments for PCOS: Sprionolactone is probably the most popular that's available in the US. However, it comes with a number of side effects, and its not a permanent solution. Birth control pills are cheap, accessible, and can be stopped at any point. 

There are generally four classes of birth control pill: the third and fourth classes, which are the most recently developed, are considered the most "anti-androgenic." This means they act to counter or suppress the production of androgenic hormones, like testosterone, that cause acne (as well as hirsutism). In other countries, there are birth control pills that are far more anti-androgenic than those that are available to users in the US. Of the birth control pills available in the United States, ones containing drosperinone--brand names like Yaz or Yasmin--are the most anti-androgenic. However, they are also highly related to depression, which I have had in the past. I didn't want to take that risk. So my doctor prescribed me Sprintec, which is a generic form of Ortho Tri-Cyclen, which contains the synthetic form of progrestin called Norgestimate. It is one of only a few birth control pills that are designated to treat acne in the US and Canada.

Four weeks later, and my skin is dryer, softer, and clear. I wake up and my face is not oily, irritated, or broken out.

I've also decided to take my birth control continuously, rather than cyclically. This means rather than taking a week's worth of placebo pills each month, I skip the placebo pills at the end of the pack (and the associated period), and start a new pack immediately. This means my hormones don't fluctuate. Doctors recommend getting your period at least every three months, which means I'll probably take 9 weeks of the hormonal pills, then one week of placebo pills, which will give me a period once every ten weeks. I'm choosing this over the standard cyclical use of birth control so that there is less fluctuation, and assuming my old symptoms will show up during the placebo week, which I'd like to limit as much as possible. I also take my pill at the same time every evening.

If you're reading this--there's hope for you. Acne sucks. I've cried over it for too long. I feel free at last from the anxiety and hopelessness that it induced in me, and want the same for you.

 

August 27, 2019
Love/Hate relationship with OTC

I have a love/hate relationship with this birth control. When I went on it at 19 years old, I had very nice, clear skin to begin with. Going on OTC pills didn't break me out or anything - my skin stayed the same. It wasn't until I tried coming OFF of the pill that I started breaking out. This actually happened twice:

I temporarily stopped taking OTC for one summer while I was switching from regular OTC to OTC Lo and broke out that whole summer. When I got on OTC Lo in the fall, my skin went back to normal. Then, years later, when I eventually stopped taking OTC Lo, I broke out like crazy again. I broke out for a solid 4-5 months before my hormones finally regulated, and then my skin went back to normal.

For me, it's not being ON the pill that messes up my skin, it's the "rebound" or "withdrawal" from the pill that breaks me out, terribly. Yes, it eventually cleared up, but left a lot of scarring and distress in the process. For this reason, I won't go back on BC pills at all.

February 4, 2019
Worked Earlier & Now Doesn't

I was on the generic form of OTC when I was 20 (got off after 1 year) and 22 (got off after 2 years), and both times it impressively cleared up my acne with few side effects. However, when I decided to get back on it when I was 25, my acne got very bad -the worst for me. Nothing much happened 1 month in (except a messed up period), but the 2nd and especially the 3rd months threw me into a bad depression along with getting painful nodules  and cystic acne along my cheeks and jaw. I remember crying over everything and not being able to control my anxiety, in addition to being saddened that OTC had suddenly did all this harm to me. After 3 months, I got off of OTC and went on a generic of Yasmin. My acne immediately started going away!

June 15, 2018
Trying to be patient and hopeful!
I have been taking the generic version of this birth control, Tri-Previfem, for a month and a half. I have not had any side effects (no weight gain, same boob size). During the first month, my acne cleared up for the most part. It has definitely been worse this past two weeks since I started the second pack. The pimples are popping up frequently, but are healing faster than normal. I have also been eating a lot of sugar in the past week, and I've noticed a relationship between my sugar intake and acne severity. I have struggled with moderate hormonal acne on my face and back since age 13 (around 5 years). I'll update again after I have taken this pill for a longer time.
November 27, 2017
Horrible product
My acne really wasn't that bad when I started taking Tri-Sprintec. However, when I started, I got horrible cystic acne for months. After time this cleared up a bit but I feel that my acne is still worse than when I started. I'm terrified to switch birth controls though because I don't want the terrible acne I originally had to come back. I really don't know what to do and I wish I never started taking this product in the first place.
October 13, 2017
Helps my hormonal acne
I don't take this just for acne, but it does help keep my hormonal acne under control. I'm lucky in that I experience no negative side effects from this birth control, only positive ones. It's stopped my sometimes horrific cramps and really moderated my usually very heavy flow. I've been on other birth control pills but this particular formulation seems to do the trick as far as helping my skin.
November 20, 2017
how long have you been on it? I didn't have much acne to start with but once i started this i began breaking out like crazy and I still am. I just started my third month and if this doesnt work within the next 4 months i think i will explode.
June 19, 2017
hang in there, it pays off
Initially going on it was pretty rough. I went through a rollar coaster of side effects. Nausea, headaches, minor weight gain, 1st month wasn't a good time but I just finished month 3 and my cystic acne has completely cleared up as well as the side effects and I couldn't be happier. Although the adjustment period was rough I think it is worth it in the long run.
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December 10, 2016
The most low-risk option
After seeing my dermatologist in Nashville, she continuously recommended Ortho-Tricyclen over other options because it's really the most low-risk option. This is useful to learn more: [link edited out]
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November 4, 2016
Give it time!
Even though I am only 20, I have struggled with acne many times. I tried multiple antibitics that worked temporarily, but then either gave me a severe allergic reaction (Minocycline) or stopped working (Bactrim). I even tried Accutane and it was only successful for a couple months following treatment. Anyways after the antibiotics stopped working I felt hopeless. All of a sudden I was plagued with large, painful, cystic acne that covered my chin and cheeks. As many of you know, acne does not really boost your self-esteem. I really struggled to even want to be seen. After doing some research I learned that cystic acne is often a result of hormonal imbalances. This led me to try birth control. In the first couple of months my acne seemed to get worse and I felt as if I was doomed to have bad skin. Seemingly everyday I came back to this site to read reviews about people who said to give the medication time and that after 3 months it really starts working. I sure am glad I stuck with it! My face is now clear. Sure I have a couple pop up now and then, but using topical Retin-A and sulfur ointment really does a good job of zapping them quickly. This medication is well worth the initial struggle. I should also add that in the beginning of taking the medication I did feel very strong mood swings, for me they went away after the initial hormone shock. I wish you the best and hope you find your cure!
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Finding a Doctor

The right dermatologist can make a big difference to your patient experience and the success of your acne treatment plan. Here are the steps to find a dermatologist who is a good fit:

  1. Use the search feature on the American Academy of Dermatology website to look for board-certified dermatologists in your area, and filter the search results for doctors with a special interest in treating acne.
  2. Read online patient reviews of any dermatologists you are considering and ask people you know whether they have any experience with these dermatologists.
  3. Do your research and go to your first appointment with questions prepared.
  4. Listen to what your gut feeling tells you once you see a dermatologist in person. If you are not completely comfortable, try a different dermatologist.

Finding a Doctor

Only a select few plastic surgeons specialize in acne scar revision surgery. Be certain to find a provider who specializes in acne scar repair and who is passionate and experienced in this area.

Be sure to:

  • Look at before and after photos, the more the better, especially patients with similar scarring to your own.
  • Be realistic about results. Look for improvement, not a cure.

Questions to ask a potential scar revision specialist:

  • Are you board certified? Be certain that they are board certified.
  • How long have you been performing these procedures? Normally, the more experience the better, however, some younger surgeons may be more on top of the latest procedures.
  • Can I speak to some of your other patients? Ask for references for several patients who had similar scarring and speak to them about the process and their satisfaction with results.

Red flags:

  • Their story changes: As you discuss different treatment options, if they tend to change their mind easily, or agree with whatever you say, consider this a red flag. A confident, experienced surgeon will possess strong, unwavering opinions.
  • Your gut tells you "no": Trust your gut. If you just don't feel that the doctor is the right fit, trust that and move on. On the other hand, if you feel they are the perfect specialist for you, trust that feeling.