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Mild to Moderate Acne

Androgenic Birth Control (Plan B) Acne, My Natural Healing Plan

plan b hormones androgenic birth control saw palmetto

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#1 olivia221

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 08:52 PM

Hey guys,

 

I've been doing a ton of research the past few days, including from my textbooks (I'm in medical school) and I think I've figured out my problem.

 

Last winter, I took Next Choice/Plan B pill (levonorgestrel mega-dose) two times. I was also briefly on Alesse a few months back (same thing in lower doses) and I also had to take an oral steroid for bad poison ivy. I was also under a LOT of stress and had some digestive problems during the same time. A mess, I know, you'd think a med student would know better! But I trusted my primary care Dr. too much and I don't think she knew what she was talking about, looking back.

 

My skin had always been perfectly clear and glowing, I would get compliments from strangers. In the winter it started to get kind of congested looking and by May I was having big painful cysts appearing around my mouth, jawline, and on the edge of my cheeks. At first I didn't worry about it, but it got worse during the summer, even appearing between my eyebrows and being extremely painful. It took me a while to connect the dots, but it's got to be the hormones I took last winter. At this point (8 months later!) it is better, but I still have 2-3 active pimples around my mouth and redness from not-quite-healed older ones. Another hormonal indication is that I have a single dark hair that grows on the edge of my left cheek, that didn't used to be there, and several on my lower chest.

 

My diet is mostly gluten free, completely dairy free (dairy causes inflammation immediately). I eat sprouted legumes and grains, mineral-rich bone broth, grass fed meat and eggs, locally grown vegetables, I drink Kombucha and make my own sauerkraut. I currently supplement with fermented cod liver oil, high vitamin butter oil, zinc gluconate, MSM, biotin, and niacin; I don't think diet is the problem. I tried DIM for 60 days without success.

 

My plan A is to address the apparent high androgenic activity with natural DHT inhibitors.I realize this is in a way just addressing a symptom and not the underlying hormonal problem, ie, why is the androgen/estrogen balance whacked to begin with. But I'm hoping this will clear my skin while my body has a chance to heal itself on its own time.

 

I will be taking a standardized saw palmetto extract, licorice and spearmint capsules or teas daily.

I will add to my supplement regime: chromium and a tsp of ground cinnamon (for possible insulin resistance caused by the pill), a b-complex in place of niacin and biotin (for more balance), DIM every other day to eliminate xenoestrogens, and apple cider vinegar taken in water daily. 

 

Likely I'll try this for 30-60 days without changing it and observe carefully. I'll report here because a lot of people seem to have a similar problem.

 

Plan B will involve talking to a few doctors AND naturopaths about my other options. I'm thinking progesterone levels could have a role in the root cause of unbalanced hormones. 

 



#2 hitea

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 05:01 PM

I think you're onto something. I was on the Mirena IUD and before that, the Depo Shot. Both of these are progestin-only birth controls. I got the worst breakouts that I've ever had on these birth controls, and I think it was due to hormone imbalances and the high androgenic activity of both. Now I'm on Beyaz birth control which contains estrogen and a spironolactone-esque hormone which reduces DHT. I have not experienced a terrible breakout yet, and I'm hoping in a few months, my hormones will be sorted out. Good luck on your regimen! :D



#3 olivia221

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 11:51 AM

I have an update! 
Even though it's been less than two weeks since I started my regimen, I can happily report that there is a *definite* positive change! 
After about 5 days of starting, there were still active pimples, but I could feel the deep layers of skin underneath becoming smoother. Before when I massaged the skin around my mouth, I could feel deep nodules within the skin that weren't even visible yet. Now those cysts are almost completely gone! The inflamed area around my mouth has begun to actually heal, and the one single pimple I have on my chin is on it's way out. I expect I will have one or two more, but that's ok -- I feel like my skin is definitely going to return to normal!! I even had pizza and a latte earlier this week, and haven't seen any inflammation as a result. Today I went out without makeup for the first time in months...This is very, very exciting for me.
 
My focus right now will be continuing the regimen and adding in elements to promote skin healing:
2000 mg vitamin C daily
MSM, topical and oral
daily cup of homemade bone broth (collagen and mineral rich)
argan oil + jojoba oil cleansing mix
zinc oxide sunscreen
biotin supplement
 
As I've gone through this experience I've noticed so many other girls with inflamed acne and I can't help but wonder if they're on birth control that's causing it. It makes me very angry sometimes that women are not informed about the side-effects of taking these very powerful drugs! Yes the skin is only a cosmetic problem, but what else is it doing to our bodies?? No one knows. 
 
In short,  I highly recommend saw palmetto + licorice + spearmint + zinc + a good vitamin B complex to block the androgen pathway that leads to acne; and vitamin C, bone broth, and MSM to promote skin healing and fade scars!


#4 RacingheartZ

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 01:36 AM

I love your detailed story!  I hope you are still having continued success with your regimen.  I had a similar story and am still fighting monthly breakouts even though it's been 5 months since I took plan B.  I noticed that my skin doesn't really get any new pimples during the follicular phase of my cycle but all hell breaks loose during the luteal phase and then the follicular phase is spent cleaning up the mess.  It's interesting to me that the luteal phase is also when progesterone surges and plan B is a progestin-only pill.  Does it somehow mess up the progesterone levels in the body?  In the past month, I've been taking a supplement from Designs for Health called Acnutrol which has a lot of the things you mentioned -- some of the B vitamins (not a complex though), chromium, and zinc gluconate.  It's definitely worth checking out as I think it's been helping speed things along this month.  The only thing that seems to be missing from it is Vitamin C ... I just learned recently FYI that it's best to not take vitamin C and B's at the same time as C can reduce the effectiveness of the B's.  I also go to an acupuncturist and have been taking an herbal supplement which has hormone balancing properties (it has Dong Quai in it and I think licorice among other things).  

 

Great job with the bone broth!!  That's next up on my list of things to incorporate into my lifestyle.  I'd love to hear an update on your story!  Way to be super proactive and consider things from multiple angles ... you'll make an excellent doctor! 



#5 lifesnotfair

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Posted Today, 01:12 PM

I love your detailed story!  I hope you are still having continued success with your regimen.  I had a similar story and am still fighting monthly breakouts even though it's been 5 months since I took plan B.  I noticed that my skin doesn't really get any new pimples during the follicular phase of my cycle but all hell breaks loose during the luteal phase and then the follicular phase is spent cleaning up the mess.  It's interesting to me that the luteal phase is also when progesterone surges and plan B is a progestin-only pill.  Does it somehow mess up the progesterone levels in the body?

The same thing happened to me. Never had acne in my life maybe mild back acne as a teen ager but nothing that would have bothered me. I took plan b 3 years ago and soon after that started breaking out everywhere (face,back,chest). It got gradually worse and after 6 months I had severe cystic acne that left me with scars. At the moment it's not as severe but in these 3 years I've never gotten it under control. Doctors tell me there's no connection but I refuse to believe that. I got a blood test done that showed elevated DHEA. 

 
I'm wondering the same thing about progesterone. Plan b is levonorgestel which is a synthetic progesterone and acts differently in the body than natural progesterone. I guess it causes an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen. Levonorgestel is also androgenic. 
I remember reading that progesterone is the regulator hormone and is supposed to balance all the other hormones. Maybe if the plan b caused our bodies not to produce enough progesterone and that's causing an imbalance?
It also makes me wonder that people usually break out worse when progesterone is highest(before period and pregnancy). Maybe there's too much progesterone after taking the pill and not enough estrogen? 


#6 RacingheartZ

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Posted Today, 01:41 PM

I love your detailed story!  I hope you are still having continued success with your regimen.  I had a similar story and am still fighting monthly breakouts even though it's been 5 months since I took plan B.  I noticed that my skin doesn't really get any new pimples during the follicular phase of my cycle but all hell breaks loose during the luteal phase and then the follicular phase is spent cleaning up the mess.  It's interesting to me that the luteal phase is also when progesterone surges and plan B is a progestin-only pill.  Does it somehow mess up the progesterone levels in the body?

The same thing happened to me. Never had acne in my life maybe mild back acne as a teen ager but nothing that would have bothered me. I took plan b 3 years ago and soon after that started breaking out everywhere (face,back,chest). It got gradually worse and after 6 months I had severe cystic acne that left me with scars. At the moment it's not as severe but in these 3 years I've never gotten it under control. Doctors tell me there's no connection but I refuse to believe that. I got a blood test done that showed elevated DHEA. 

 
I'm wondering the same thing about progesterone. Plan b is levonorgestel which is a synthetic progesterone and acts differently in the body than natural progesterone. I guess it causes an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen. Levonorgestel is also androgenic. 
I remember reading that progesterone is the regulator hormone and is supposed to balance all the other hormones. Maybe if the plan b caused our bodies not to produce enough progesterone and that's causing an imbalance?
It also makes me wonder that people usually break out worse when progesterone is highest(before period and pregnancy). Maybe there's too much progesterone after taking the pill and not enough estrogen? 
 
Yep!  That's exactly what happened to me ... my DHEA was actually so high that I had to get an ultrasound to see if I had an adrenal mass.  It's been over a year since I took plan B and my skin is like 90% better now but I had such bad cystic acne that I have some ice pick scars on my cheeks that I don't think will fully go away.  I consider myself lucky though, it could have been a lot worse and I continue to see improvements as I work on my diet and experiment with supplements that support skin health.  I'm eating cleaner than I ever have, taking zinc/vit C/vit E and will probably experiment with biotin at some point and things are looking pretty good.  My DHEA levels were back down last time I had them checked but I have to go again in the next few weeks to monitor it again.  
 
I don't think everyone's body responds by spiking DHEA levels (or at least not to the degree that mine did)  but I'm wondering if there are certain people who already have an underlying imbalance that just really respond poorly to plan B.  My acupuncturist described it as "adding fuel to an already raging fire."  I feel like I have a trend towards PCOS-like symptoms without actually having PCOS ... I've had an ovarian cyst in the past, I had a tendency towards blood sugar dysregulation, I've had a tendency towards acne since puberty (but never as bad as after the plan b experience).  Add that to the fact that I was working a lot of hours and in a full-time graduate program when I took the plan B so there was definitely significant stress on my body already.  So there's been an underlying hormonal imbalance for years and it was as if the plan B pushed over some kind of edge that has taken over a year to re-balance and considerable effort.  
 
Good question about the progesterone:estrogen ratio being disturbed.  I do think that I also have symptoms of low progesterone.  If plan B tricks our bodies into thinking our progesterone already spiked, then I could see it responding by producing less internal progesterone.  It's as though our body didn't get the memo that that was only supposed to happen for one month and not for the next few years hahaha.  I hope things continually improve for you!  The plus side I see to all of this is that I keep learning how to treat my body better and better ... but at the same time I completely understand the pain caused by having your acne get out of control.  I haven't quite regained my confidence to the level that it was before the breakout, but I'm getting there.  Best wishes to you!!

Edited by RacingheartZ, Today, 01:52 PM.





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