Hundreds of women each year are getting pregnant while being on Accutane even though there are some serious warning!
Acne is not very fun. Not only can acne lower your self-esteem by making you feel less attractive, but it can also sometimes be even painful. People who deal with severe acne, or cystic acne, not only deal with acne around their face, they often struggle with acne on their chest and back, it is incredibly uncomfortable. In severe cases, over the counter medicine will not work. If you have asked anybody with severe acne they have probably tried every over the counter cream, ointment, soap and scrub that the world has to offer. These people might turn to prescription medications and then sometimes even turn to one of the most serious approaches which is called Accutane (isotretinoin).
Due to the strength and amount of side effects, Accutane is the last resort. Accutane is simple to take. It is a pill that you are supposed to take twice a day with food. This strong medication can make your mental health issues even worse, and people who have never dealt with depression might all of a sudden start showing symptoms. Accutane can adjust your mood and cause severe mood changes. This medication can cause anger and even thoughts of suicide. Accutane can be absorbed in the skin and lungs and will cause harm to an unborn baby. Pregnant women are not only not supposed to take this medication, but they are encouraged to not even touch the medication or even breathe in the dust! Women who get on this drug will also be placed on birth control to make sure that they are fully protected against getting pregnant. However, even with all of the warnings, women are taking this medication without being extremely cautious about avoiding pregnancy.
A study was conducted that showed 6,740 pregnancies among women taking (isotretinoin) between 1997 and 2017, which peaked at 768 pregnancies in 2006. An organization called iPLEDGE was created to help spread awareness among women to avoid getting pregnant during their time on Accutane because it can cause severe birth defects to the children. iPLEDGE encouraged women to be on birth control while on Accutane, or to abstain from sex during their time on the drug. Women are also encouraged to take a pregnancy test before taking the medication and then to take a pregnancy test each month while being on the drug. iPLEDGE helped to reduce the number of women taking the medication while pregnant, but there are still hundreds of women each year who remain on the drug even though they know they are pregnant, or who are not taking the proper precautions to avoid pregnancy.
Dr. Hyagriv Simhan, vice chair for obstetrics at the UPMC Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, shared that the number will most likely never go to zero. Many of the women who are pregnant on Accutane are those women who had unplanned pregnancies and then are taking the drug without the knowledge of being pregnant. Ultimately, in order to reduce the number of pregnant women on Accutane then it would be important to promote better use of contraception. No birth control is perfect, but Simhan says that we need to use birth control better than we are.