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ellaanne

Hormone Testing

Hi,

I have an appointment in two weeks to see an OBGYN and I am planning to ask for a hormone test since I am sure this is the root of my acne problems. I am wondering from those who have had hormone tests:

(1) Were you able to get your doctor to agree to give you one, or how do you go about getting it?

(2) What did the tests show?

(3) What did you do in response to what the test showed?

(4) Did that response work to help clear your acne?

Thanks!

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Most obgyns will be more than willing to do blood tests (hormone, etc.) for adult women with acne. They tested me because I had irregular periods and acne...

It depends on your symptoms (e.g. do you have irregular periods? hirsutism? just acne? etc), but they can test your hormone levels (which could include free testosterone/ DHEA, LH/FSH, estrogen levels/balance, progesterone levels, SBHG levels, TSH, prolactin…), and might also test your glucose and insulin levels, since insulin resistance can be (very) related to hormone imbalance.

I have PCOS, so my doctor has me doing a few things. PCOS cannot really be cured, but by changing my diet and adding supplements, it's possible to correct my various hormone imbalances, including the elevated androgen levels and insulin resistance, which are the primary culprits for my acne.

There’s some really helpful articles on a PCOS board that will likely answer some of your questions as well, since PCOS contains a variety of symptoms that require tests exactly like those you are interested in getting. This is a collection of the relevant posts/info… you’ll want to look at the ones about hormone tests, especially the ones about “normal†test results.

Anyway, I basically have to eat like a diabetic (a nutritionist + RD help with this).. in regards to acne, correcting elevated blood glucose/insulin levels helps reduce inflammatory response/ reduce androgens. I also take supplements: diaxinol (combo of things to control blood sugar), d-chiro inositol (helps with a variety of symptoms), vitex (chasteberry.. also helps with PCOS symptoms), multivitamin, vitamin D, fish oil, zinc, and calcium.

I've also been on spironolactone for five weeks (to directly reduce androgen levels/activity), but I'm hoping to be weaned off this once I fix my imbalances via diet and natural supplements (which is totally possible to do if I stick with it). I'll still use topicals (I don't mind sticking with the tretinoin and an exfoliant, but hopefully I'll be able to use them a bit less frequently), but I'm hoping to no longer need the spiro, since I don't really want to use it long term...

I just started with the more rigorous approach (of diet overhaul + new supplements/ increased some dosages of supplements I'd been taking) to battling my hormone levels yesterday, after some re-tests and consultations in my gynos office... (though I was diagnosed with PCOS several months ago) so I can't tell you yet how everything will affect my acne... but hopefully it gives you an idea of how some doctors are approaching treatment. Many with PCOS (and acne) end up seeing an improvement with their acne with similar diet/supplement regimens...

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Most obgyns will be more than willing to do blood tests (hormone, etc.) for adult women with acne. They tested me because I had irregular periods and acne...

It depends on your symptoms (e.g. do you have irregular periods? hirsutism? just acne? etc), but they can test your hormone levels (which could include free testosterone/ DHEA, LH/FSH, estrogen levels/balance, progesterone levels, SBHG levels, TSH, prolactin…), and might also test your glucose and insulin levels, since insulin resistance can be (very) related to hormone imbalance.

I have PCOS, so my doctor has me doing a few things. PCOS cannot really be cured, but by changing my diet and adding supplements, it's possible to correct my various hormone imbalances, including the elevated androgen levels and insulin resistance, which are the primary culprits for my acne.

There’s some really helpful articles on a PCOS board that will likely answer some of your questions as well, since PCOS contains a variety of symptoms that require tests exactly like those you are interested in getting. This is a collection of the relevant posts/info… you’ll want to look at the ones about hormone tests, especially the ones about “normal” test results.

Anyway, I basically have to eat like a diabetic (a nutritionist + RD help with this).. in regards to acne, correcting elevated blood glucose/insulin levels helps reduce inflammatory response/ reduce androgens. I also take supplements: diaxinol (combo of things to control blood sugar), d-chiro inositol (helps with a variety of symptoms), vitex (chasteberry.. also helps with PCOS symptoms), multivitamin, vitamin D, fish oil, zinc, and calcium.

I've also been on spironolactone for five weeks (to directly reduce androgen levels/activity), but I'm hoping to be weaned off this once I fix my imbalances via diet and natural supplements (which is totally possible to do if I stick with it). I'll still use topicals (I don't mind sticking with the tretinoin and an exfoliant, but hopefully I'll be able to use them a bit less frequently), but I'm hoping to no longer need the spiro, since I don't really want to use it long term...

I just started with the more rigorous approach (of diet overhaul + new supplements/ increased some dosages of supplements I'd been taking) to battling my hormone levels yesterday, after some re-tests and consultations in my gynos office... (though I was diagnosed with PCOS several months ago) so I can't tell you yet how everything will affect my acne... but hopefully it gives you an idea of how some doctors are approaching treatment. Many with PCOS (and acne) end up seeing an improvement with their acne with similar diet/supplement regimens...

I am male. Is there a way that guys can get tested too for this? I going through the same problems and diet trying to balance my hormones and blood sugar levels. Since i know this is what contributes to my re occuring acne as it only happens in same areas of my chin over and over.

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Thanks for all the responses!

I haven't been tested yet, I have an OBGYN appointment on the 25th to ask about it. The reason I'm concerned that the OBGYN won't be helpful is because I've been to two derms and a doctor who seem uninterested in my theory that hormones are the problem despite the fact that my acne is almost all on my chin, that I recently went off the pill because after a year it had never synced up with my cycle and was making my acne wore, and despite the fact that in my opinion I have many other symptoms of a hormone issue including hair on my chin. My guess is that my testosterone levels are too high.

I've researched PCOS a bit, but my periods are very regular so unless I'm bleeding without ovulating I don't think that's what's going on with me.

Males can be tested for hormone levels too. If your doctor isn't helpful you might order a test on lef.com which someone was talking about somewhere else on this board. If the OBGYN is uncooperative this is what I'm going to do, I'm just going to try to get it covered by my insurance first since I've already spent so much money on OTC, Rx, and laser treatments. The person who mentioned that website said that when she showed the results to her doctor the doctor Rx'd the standard antibiotics and topicals (which seems completely ridiculous in my opinion because it fails to address the underlying hormonal issue) which did nothing, but that she called the health advisors on that website and they told her what to take and it worked. I'm guessing that saw palmetto is going to be what I should try if I'm right about too much testosterone, and I've already ordered some saw palmetto tea and clearogen lotion which has saw palmetto in it.

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I will be very interested in hearing your experience with your OBGYN. I have seen my regular care practitioner and a dermatologist who don't agree with me that my acne is hormonal. They keep prescribing me antibiotics that I refuse to take.

I know that they are educated and all that good stuff, but to me it's suspicious that the only time my acne shows up is during hormonal "transitioning" periods in my life (birth control switches, course of Lupron, pregnancy, breastfeeding etc).

I have an appointment scheduled with my OBGYN but it's not until the end of October so I'll have to wait that long...

Meanwhile I've had some success with evening primrose oil, vitex and Niacin. Since EPO and vitex help balance hormones this makes me feel that there really is merit to my hormonal acne theory.

Let us know how things go for you!!

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Thanks theComfyCat, I hadn't seen that post!

I'm sorry your doctors aren't being helpful, I've had the same experience, that is so frustrating :cry:

I have done a little more research and think that both my testosterone and estrogen levels might be too high. I have the following symptoms:

- Low blood pressure (hormonal issue?)

- Depressed mood (also weepy and mood swings)

- Irritable

- Excessive Sweating (palms, feet, underarms)

- Foggy feeling

- Skin is best right after period and worst right before it (I googled up a menstrual hormones chart and think this means that my skin is better when estrogen in my body is lower Chart

- Dandruff that doesn’t respond to over the counter treatments

- Acne primarily concentrated on chin and around mouth

- Dark coarse hair on chin, slightly dark hair on upper lip

- Losing more hair on head than normal?

- Birth control would not sync with period (got period when taking active pills despite being on the pill for about a year)

- Regular periods that last 7-8 days (very heavy prior to the pill) accompanied by cramps, backaches, breast tenderness for the first few days

- Vaginal wetness (moderate)

I actually look a lot more put together than that list would lead you to believe haha :redface:

I called a health advisor at lef.com and if nothing else it was nice to have someone affirm me and tell me I'm not crazy and I should have my levels tested. They told me if I got tests from my doctor I could fax them in and they would have doctors there look them over, which I think is great because who knows how helpful my doctors will be even if the results show something is off.

I'm actually starting to get worried that there is something actually wrong to make me this off balance, but hopefully that's not the case and I'll find out for sure soon.

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As an update:

I got so fed up this morning that I called around and found a cancellation and met with a women's health certified nurse who set me up with the tests which I am going to take tomorrow morning (it requires a 12 hour fast). She said that she thinks I have Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I'm not entirely sure this is what I've got because I am quite thin and have regular periods and obesity and irregular periods are big symptoms. However, maybe that is what I've got, and at least someone is taking me seriously. After I get the tests back I have an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist. She said that Yaz would help and that I could start it after I take the tests and before my appointment with the endocrinologist if I would like so I am thinking about doing that.

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sometimes with PCOS, you can still have menses but you might not be ovulating, or releasing an egg. go to the link that comfycat provided. there is a lot of good info there about PCOS and a forum as well.

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I am male. Is there a way that guys can get tested too for this? I going through the same problems and diet trying to balance my hormones and blood sugar levels. Since i know this is what contributes to my re occuring acne as it only happens in same areas of my chin over and over.

Well, it seems most doctors hardly know anything about PCOS when women are involved... but here's a quote you might find interesting (from the PCOS board I mentioned in an earlier post):

IS THERE A MALE PCOS?

PCOS is partly, though not entirely, genetic. One wonders then, what about males who inherit genes related to PCOS? While there will probably be no absolute proof until the genes for PCOS have been completely identified, I think the answer is right in front of us. Those men with substantial hair loss, who are overweight on the upper part of their body and insulin resistant probably have the male equivalent of PCOS. Of course having facial and body hair is normal for men so no one pays attention. Men cannot have irregular periods but they can have the metabolic changes. I suspect that many men with adult onset diabetes actually have the equivalent of PCOS. I’ve noticed that many of the women I see at the Hormone Center of New York have a family history of diabetes, often in male relatives.

Significantly, the treatment for IR or diabetes in men is the same as that for women with PCOS – insulin sensitizers. Of course, many of the hormonal treatments I have discussed are suitable only for women.

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Thanks for all the info! Yeah I've read a bit about PCOS with bleeding but no ovulation. I'm planning to ask the doctor if he thinks I'm ovulating, or if he can do more tests to find out for sure. Of the results that have come back so far only my DHEA-S was out of the normal range. My testosterone was right in the middle of the normal range which seems odd to me since DHEA-S is precursor hormone that turns into estrogen and testosterone. My DHEA-S was double the max value it should be at. This could be PCOS or adrenal issues. My appt with the endocrinologist is Monday morning so I will find out more then.

I'm wondering if the DHEA-S being so high has something to do with having lost a decent amount of weight a little over a year ago. I lost it all the healthy way through diet and exercise and at a healthy pace (5 lbs or so a month), but I guess exercise and calorie restriction can amp up DHEA...though it seems odd it would be so high a year later and a lot of these symptoms have developed in the last few months. Though knowing my DHEA-S levels are so high explains why I am so crazy irritable and so jumpy and amped up all the time (it's a hormone that is high in people with PTSD which is why they are always hyper-aroused). Based on what I know now I think my DHEA-S levels have always been on the high end but that they have shot out of control in the last year or so. Hopefully now that I know more about what's going on I can find out what to do to get feeling like myself again.

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Okay, I had my appointment and the doctor was mildly dismissive as usual, but what he told me was basically the conclusions I came to after a lot of research so I'm not upset yet. Although I do intend to get a second opinion just as a matter of course no matter what he determines.

The doctor didn't think I have PCOS, but said I do need to be tested to see if there is something going on with my adrenal gland. He says it's probably not anything serious, and is leaning toward treating me with spironolactone rather than Yaz because I had a weird reaction to previous birth controls (assuming I don't have an adrenal tumor or something more serious going on). I'm not too big into the idea of being on spiro forever, but I'm open to trying it if that's the conclusion he comes to. I had more tests done today including tests for total testosterone and a variety of tests related to my adrenal gland, but won't get the results until a week or so. I have a follow up appointment for next Tuesday.

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Okay, I had my appointment and the doctor was mildly dismissive as usual, but what he told me was basically the conclusions I came to after a lot of research so I'm not upset yet. Although I do intend to get a second opinion just as a matter of course no matter what he determines.

The doctor didn't think I have PCOS, but said I do need to be tested to see if there is something going on with my adrenal gland. He says it's probably not anything serious, and is leaning toward treating me with spironolactone rather than Yaz because I had a weird reaction to previous birth controls (assuming I don't have an adrenal tumor or something more serious going on). I'm not too big into the idea of being on spiro forever, but I'm open to trying it if that's the conclusion he comes to. I had more tests done today including tests for total testosterone and a variety of tests related to my adrenal gland, but won't get the results until a week or so. I have a follow up appointment for next Tuesday.

any updates?

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Hi,

The doctor decided I do have PCOS...which would also explain my other symptoms and why I am so exhausted all the time. I'm a bit upset that it took this long to get the diagnosis since it's a very common problem (up to 15% of women have it...and I saw one study that said 80% of women referred to a dermatologist have it).

I started taking spironolactone which has definitely helped. It's the week before my period so I have had few new zits pop up, but nothing too major. I started it a little into two weeks before my period during which it's always bad so I'm expecting things to really take off in a week or so when it's not fighting an uphill battle so to speak. I'm also trying to address the PCOS with diet and exercise and a Vitamin D deficiency with supplements since some studies have shown that bring Vitamin D levels up to normal can minimize or reverse PCOS symptoms since women with PCOS tend to also have low levels of Vitamin D.

I would really encourage any women who have had multiple treatments fail or who have other symptoms of PCOS to be really forceful with your doctors about doing hormone testing. I had a lot of doctors turn me down and it took me months to get someone to listen, but I'm finally starting to feel less tired and more like myself. I have regular periods and I am thin so I'm a non-classic case, so just because you don't have every symptom I wouldn't rule it out.

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glad to hear that you finally have an answer to what has been going on with you. :clap: now hopefully you can get your self headed in the right direction. sounds like PCOS stumps Drs just as much as appendicitis...fairly common, but easily misdiagnosed. :doh:

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