Can Birth Control Pills Help Treat My Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Can Birth Control Pills Help Treat My Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

April 11, 2023

Paper citation:  Montero-Vilchez T, Valenzuela-Amigo A, Cuenca-Barrales C, Arias-Santiago S, Leyva-García A, Molina-Leyva A. The Role of Oral Contraceptive Pills in Hidradenitis Suppurativa: A Cohort Study. Life (Basel). 2021 Jul 15;11(7):697. doi: 10.3390/life11070697. PMID: 34357069; PMCID: PMC8307628.

Name and institution/affiliations: Amanda Hunt, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

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What was the purpose of this research? 

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) most commonly affects women and usually begins around puberty. The cause of HS is complex and not well understood, and HS symptoms can flare before or during menstrual cycles. This suggests that sex hormones, the hormones active during these times, may play a role in the disease. 

This study determines if using an oral contraceptive medication, also known as birth control, may be helpful in women who are treated with OCPs for their HS. 

How was the project done?

100 women with HS were divided into two groups. 50 were given antibiotics and birth control pills to treat their HS and the other 50 were treated with only antibiotics. Two different types of birth control were used in the study: the combined type has both estrogen and progesterone and non-combined type only have progesterone. Each woman was prescribed the best type based on their personal medical history, including risk of blood clots. Patients with a high risk for blood clots were put into the non-combined group as combined oral contraceptives increase blood clot risk. After twelve weeks, the number of abscesses, draining tunnels, and inflammatory nodules in each group was counted. 

What did they find?

Women treated with birth control pills were found to have a 53% decrease in the number of abscesses and inflammatory nodules compared to a 38% decrease in the other group. However, there was no difference in the draining tunnel count between the two groups. This showed that oral contraceptives were able to improve HS for patients in this study.

What do this research mean?

This study showed that oral contraceptives may be useful in the treatment of HS. However, this study was only done on a small number of women. Therefore, more research on the topic still needs to be done.