Objective: To evaluate the association of different contraceptive methods on the incidence and severity of acne.
Methods: Using a de-identified commercial claims database, we performed a retrospective cohort study evaluating the incidence of clinical encounters for acne in the first year after initiation of contraception among female patients aged 12-40 years who were new contraceptive users. To evaluate the association of contraception class with acne severity, a subgroup analysis was performed among a cohort of patients with a history of acne examining the incidence of treatment escalation from topical acne medications to an oral tetracycline-class antibiotic in the year after initiation of contraception.
Results: Among new contraceptive users with no history of acne (N=336,738), compared with combined oral contraceptives (OCs), the copper intrauterine device (IUD) (hazard ratio [HR] 1.14; 95% CI 1.01-1.29) and levonorgestrel IUDs (HR 1.09; 95% CI 1.03-1.16) were associated with increased risk of clinical encounters with acne. Among those with a history of acne (n=21,178), compared with combined OCs, the copper IUD (HR 1.44; 95% CI 1.00-2.06) and levonorgestrel IUDs (HR 1.34; 95% CI 1.10-1.64) were associated with increased risk of treatment escalation from topical acne medications to an oral tetracycline class antibiotic.
Conclusion: Combined OCs appear to be associated with a modest (or small) protective effect with respect to incident acne and treatment escalation compared with other contraceptive methods. However, absolute differences between contraceptive methods were small.