What Are Irregular Periods
Most women have menstrual cycles that last between 21 and 35 days. Up to one quarter of women experience irregular periods. This includes having periods that are shorter or longer than usual or periods that are lighter or heavier than usual. Some women who have irregular periods may experience abdominal cramping or a lack of ovulation. Amenorrhea is a medical term that refers to an absence of periods for at least 3 months even though a woman is not pregnant. Menorrhagia is the term that means excessive menstrual bleeding. Dysmenorrhea refers to pain and cramping during periods. Prolonged menstrual bleeding involves periods in which bleeding routinely lasts for 8 days or longer. Oligomenorrhea is a condition in which periods occur infrequently or more than every 35 days. See your doctor if you believe hormonal imbalance is affecting your menstrual cycle.
Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Ask any woman going through perimenopause or menopause what they hate the most, and the answer is likely to be the hot flashes and night sweats. About 75 per cent of women going through the change of life experience hot flashes that last for up to two years. They are usually the last sign leading up to a womans final period.
In addition to raising the temperature of the skin, hot flashes can elevate the heart rate. The result is not only feeling hot and sweaty but potentially also dizzy. Maca root extract can help alleviate hot flashes and other unpleasant symptoms of menopause. There is no recommended dosage of maca root, but most studies on its effectiveness for menopausal women have tested with 1.5 to 5 grams of daily intake.
Menopause And Hormonal Acne
Entering menopause causes a normal, natural reduction in your bodys production of female reproductive hormones such as estrogen. For some women, this can lead to an increase in hormonal acne outbreaks.
Like hormonal acne for non-menopausal women, menopause-related hormonal acne is the result of fluctuations in your bodys hormone levels.
As your estrogen levels decrease, your balance of androgens to estrogenic hormones can cause your body to create more sebum.
If youre acne prone, this can lead to everything from a few occasional pimples to severe and regular acne outbreaks.
Menopausal hormonal acne can even occur if you use HRT to deal with the symptoms of aging.
HRTs use an artificial hormone, progestin, to replace estrogen and progesterone, which can cause your skin to go awry.
As always, if youre experiencing menopause-related hormonal acne, the best approach is to talk to your healthcare provider about retinoids, antibiotics and hormonal medications to limit outbreaks and control your bodys sebum production.
Does This Mean Birth Control Pills Actually Help Acne
Acne is one of the many reasons women areprescribed birth control. Take Emily, one of my patients, for example. At herfirst visit, she admitted that she hadnt let anyone take her picture in threeyears. Three years!
Emilys doctor had put her on the pill tocontrol her acne, and while she had tried several types, none of them resultedin the clear skin she hoped for. She was embarrassed, frustrated, and confused.Why was this happening? Its simple: The pill does not fix hormones.It merely masks them.
But while the pill did not clear Emilys skin,it does often workunless you try to come off it. Ive heard dozens of cases ofwomen trying to stop the pill, only to have a raging acne flareeven if theynever suffered from acne prior to being on the pill!
Alice developed acne shortly after stoppingbirth control. Her doctor recommended Accutane and thatshe get back on the pill . Alice was leery of starting more medicationsand she was puzzled. Yousee, Alice had never had acne until she stopped taking the pill.
Acne after stopping birth control is oftencaused by Post-Birth Control Syndrome , and it is a common side effect ofgoing off the pill. PBCS acne can appear anywhere, even unexpected and totally unpleasantplaces like your butt!
Now, if youve followed me for a while, you know I dont accept that common translates to normal. So, while PBCS acne is not unusual, you do not have to simply accept it.
Risks And Side Effects
While you can begin by tackling hormonal acne on your own at home, you may want to visit a dermatologist if your condition is reoccurring or worsening. Your doctor/dermatologist can help pinpoint any underlying conditions that might be contributing to our breakouts, such as PCOS, high testosterone or cortisol levels, a thyroid condition, or another hormone issue.
If the treatments above dont seem to be doing enough to reduce your breakouts, speak with your dermatologist about other options such as antiandrogen drugs, which block androgen receptors to decrease the actions and effects of testosterone, or stronger topical prescriptions to fight acne-causing bacteria.
When treating hormonal acne yourself, theres potential to experience some side effects depending on the specific products and treatments you use. Some topical products might cause dry, red, flaky, painful skin at first, so make sure to follow directions, and remember that less may be more when it comes to improving your skins appearance.
If you have sensitive skin, such as eczema, dermatitis or rosacea, some products, such as retinoids and certain cleaners, may be too harsh. Certain products are also not safe when youre pregnant, so get your doctors advice if this applies to you.
Choose Your Actives Carefully
When you are bringing your skincare routine down to being as minimalistic as possible, you will probably get a little confused as to which actives you should stick to and which ones you should ditch.
Actives are ingredients inside a product that are responsible for the bioactivity of the product.
When dealing with acne, its good to have at least one active on your side however, more than one or two actives can cause irritations and sensitivity, so it is important not to go overboard with them.
Salicylic acid is a good active for mild to moderate acne, benzoyl peroxide is a good active for more stubborn moderate to severe acne, and prescription-strength retinoid such as tretinoin or over-the-counter adapalene is a good active for very severe acne.
Take These Essential Acne
Whatevers causing you acne, there are three supplements that can really make a difference. Whether you acne is caused by coming off the pill, insulin resistance, PCOS or gut dysfunction these key three supplements can help restore hormone balance and promote clearer, calmer skin.
The contraceptive pill can seriously deplete you of important vitamins and minerals, especially B-vitamins, zinc and magnesium all key nutrients for healthy skin so its really important you address these deficiencies!
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Your Diet May Be The Culprit
Food is one of the primary contributors to fluctuating or increased hormone levels in our bodies.
The typical American diet is acidic and high in saturated fats, processed grains, meat fats, and refined sugar. It is also low in fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, fiber, and antioxidants. Research has shown that this can cause an imbalance in testosterone and androgen levels, respectively. Therefore, a healthy diet is one form of natural treatment for hormonal acne. Another way to balance hormone levels is by taking certain herbs and vitamins. Both these items are discussed in more detail below.
What Does The Doc Say
Hormonal acne can be stubborn AF. If at-home treatments arent working its time to call a dermatologist. They can provide you with a tailored treatment approach. They can also help identify any underlying health conditions that might be triggering your acne.
Here are some common treatments your derm may recommend.
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Which Birth Control Is Best For Hormonal Acne
There are several hormonal birth control methods on the market. Oral contraceptive pills remain one of the most popular forms. There are two types of birth control pills: combination pills and minipills . Different forms of hormonal birth control include:
To treat acne, a dermatologist will prescribe a combined oral contraceptive pill, which contains both estrogen and progestin. The Food and Drug Administration has approved four birth control pills for acne treatment: Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, Beyaz, and Yaz.
How Well Does Hormonal Therapy Work And Is It Safe
The pill: Many studies have looked at how well oral contraceptive pills fight acne. The pill has been found effective at treating blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and acne nodules and cysts.
In fact, the pill has proven so effective that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved some oral contraceptives for treating acne.
The pill is generally considered safe for women. Some women, however, should not take it. Your dermatologist can tell you whether the pill may be a safe and effective treatment option for you.
Spironolactone: Doctors prescribe this medication to treat high blood pressure. Its also prescribed for people who are retaining too much fluid.
Dermatologists have been prescribing it for many years to treat acne and excess hair growth in women. When other acne treatments dont work, it can effectively treat deep-seated, tender acne on the lower face, jawline, or neck.
Spironolactone is not prescribed to treat acne in men due to side effects. Men have developed breasts while taking this medication to treat acne.
Spironolactone is generally considered safe for healthy women.
Taking both spironolactone and the pill can increase effectiveness. This combination has another advantage. Its essential to use birth control while taking spironolactone. If you get pregnant while taking spironolactone, your baby can have serious birth defects.
A word of caution
If you can get pregnant, youll need to use birth control while taking spironolactone.
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Short Answer: What Is Hormonal Acne
Hormonal acne is a common skin disorder that causes outbreaks of skin lesions, aka pimples or zits, on the face and body.
It happens when hormone fluctuations create the perfect storm for your pores to get clogged.
- Hormone fluctuations create the “perfect storm” for your pores:
- Oil builds up on your face
- Skin cells start clogging the hair follicles in your pores
- Bacteria get trapped in pores
As you know, hormonal changes during puberty can lead to acne.
What you may not know is that aging out of your teen years doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear when it comes to your skin.
Your hormones keep fluctuating even when you’re an adult . These fluctuations can lead to adult acne.
Note: Hormonal acne isn’t technically a type of acne, and your healthcare provider probably won’t use that term when talking about it.
Cystic acne, a more severe type of acne, is often grouped into the category of hormonal acne. The phrase “hormonal acne” is mostly used by people outside of the medical profession to talk about the potential causes of their acne.
The good news? Hormonal acne is usually treatable. There are many products available to help reduce the frequency and severity of acne breakouts, ranging from prescription medications and topical creams to over-the-counter cleansers.
Finding the right treatmentâor combination of treatmentsâmay take some experimentation.
What Can You Do At Home To Prevent Acne
In addition to treating your acne flare-ups as they happen, you also want to take care of your skin between breakouts.
- A few things you can do at home include):
- Keeping your hands off your face throughout the day
- Being gentle on your skin
- Washing your face twice a day with a fragrance-free, gentle cleanser
- Washing your skin immediately after working out or sweating for any other reason
- Avoiding astringents, toners, and exfoliants that may irritate your skin
- Staying out of the sun and using sunscreen to protect your skin when you go outside
- Sticking to non-comedogenic makeup and moisturizers
At best, hormonal acne can be a minor annoyance. At worst, it can be a painful ordeal that brings up feelings of anxiety or embarrassment. Though acne is a natural process that you should never feel ashamed of, it is still understandable to want to make it go away.
Treating hormonal acne can be an ongoing process, but you and your healthcare provider can experiment until you find a solution that works for you. If you’re interested in seeing how birth control can help with hormonal acne, we can help! Let us help you pick the best birth control for you.
Office on Women’s Health. Womenshealth.gov. Acne. Updated December 27, 2018.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. NIAMS.NIH.gov. What is Acne? Definition & Types. Reviewed August 1, 2020.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. AAD.org. Adult Acne. Accessed June 9, 2021.
The 5 Natural Supplements You Need To Stop Hormonal Acne
Using the right natural supplements every day can get you to where you want to be much faster than using food alone.
Ready to recover your glowing complexion and regain your confidence? Here are my top five natural supplements for preventing and healing hormonal acne:
Why Hormonal Acne Happens
Hormonal acne can accompany natural shifts in the menstrual cyclefor example, when youre moving from your ovulation phase into your pre-menstruation phase.. It can also be triggered by high levels of androgens and stress. Research suggests that the oil-producing glands in the skin can act as their own independent endocrine organs, responding to messages from hormones like testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol.
Women need androgens for optimal health , some stress in life is inevitable, and hormonal fluctuations during the month are not just normal but important. You want them to happen! But heres whats NOT a sure thing: acne.
Acne isnt an inevitable side effect of normal hormonal fluctuations and life stressors. Its a sign of endocrine dysfunction and a big SOS: your hormones are in trouble!. And this can happen any time in adulthood: During your 20s and 30s, during pregnancy, after baby, and even during perimenopause.
The good news is that sending help to your hormones, including using supplements to help heal and balance them, is easy.
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What’s The Best Birth Control For Acne
Quite frankly, there isn’t one.
Emily was experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone and lab testing showed that she was indeed lacking adequate amounts. But her acne persisted.
Thats because the pill doesnt fix acne or regulate hormones for that matter. It simply suppresses it.
And for some women, acne is worse after stopping birth control.
Over 2 years Emily had been on 5 different birth control pills and felt like her skin was getting worse. So, instead of reaching for another new prescription, it was time to take a holistic approach to her skin.
Root Cause Of Hormonal Acne #: Gut Issues
The gut is the center of EVERYTHING in our bodies. Gut issues dont only cause hormone imbalances, but they are also a sign that something is off with your hormones.
The digestive system and endocrine system are so closely intertwined it can be hard to see where one ends and the other begins.
Your gut helps create and detox hormones out of the body, so problems with gut function can lead to hormonal issues. Both too little hormones and too many hormones can be the result.
Hormones also control some of the functions of the gut . Thats why some women experience diarrhea and constipation around their menstrual cycle.
The bottom line is if youre having digestive issues or hormonal issues, you must consider taking action on improving the health of your gut.
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Who Is A Good Candidate For Taking Birth Control For Acne
Taking birth control comes with risks so you should consider the risk factors before starting with any birth control methods. Once your doctor has approved you as a good candidate for birth control, you will have to determine whether or not the possibility of clear skin is worth the potential side effects and risks.
The best candidates for birth control are those who have no personal or family history of clotting disorders or blood clots, fall within a healthy BMI, do not smoke, and are under the age of 35. If you are concerned about weight gain and mood swings, you may want to consider options that contain slightly less estrogen.
And be forewarned birth control isnt a surefire way to get rid of acne. It is possible that birth control may make your acne worse and it is not uncommon that your skin will get worse before it gets better when you start the pill. Unfortunately, it can take some time and some work to find the right pill to improve your acne with little to no side effects. There is no way to predict what will or wont work for you. Make sure you discuss your options with your OBGYN and dermatologist to find what works best for you.