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Theac

Oestrogen / Testosterone / Progesterone Questions (And Saw Palmetto!)

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I've read a bit on here about oestrogen being bad for skin, progesterone being good etc. I'm a bit confused by the advice people have given as I seem to have to have the opposite problem and wondered if anyone else does....or if anyone can help....

During my period and up until ovulation: Oestrogen is slowly increasing to its peak. Progesterone is at its lowest.

- This is when my skin is at its best (not fabulous)

- My mood is also at its best (I have an anxiety disorder and associated depression)

Ovulation: Testosterone peaks, oestrogen drops

- My mood drops and I get a fresh breakout on my chin (cysts, spots with heads)

Post-ovulation, leading up to period: Progesterone at its highest

- My skin is bad from here until the second day of my period. Lots of chin cysts, big spots.

- My mood is bad - anxiety, panic, irritable

- Plus physical stuff like bloating, sore boobs, can't sleep.

It's worth saying that I am 41, and have a regular 28 day cycle (with regular ovulation). I have been tested and have 'normal hormonal levels'.

I am clearly sensitive to androgen as my skin improves when I take anti, or low-androgen combined pills, esp. Dianette (Diane) and Zoely. My mood/anxiety/depression also improves when I take the combined pill. My skin and mood gets much worse when I take a pill that has no oestrogen in it.

All of this seems to suggest to me that oestrogen and lowered androgens are my friends when it comes to my skin? And progesterone is not my friend?!

I can't take the combined pill currently due to high blood pressure. Spiro literally makes me vomit. So I am trialing saw palmetto capsules and spearmint tea in an effort to lower androgen levels. However I am a bit concerned that some online articles says saw palmetto lowers oestrogen (?), as I'm not sure that's going to be beneficial to me. I have also been very irritable since starting it, but that may be coincidence. (I'm also taking inositol, omega 3, b vitamins, zinc, chromium and drinking green tea - but that's not specifically for acne, and not in excessive levels)

Does anyone have any thoughts? Many thanks :)

Edited by Theac
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I'm sure others who are more educated at this will chime in, but I wanted to say I have the same cycle of breakouts - calms down once I get my period, flares up at ovulation. I also tried to piece through the hormone/cycle connection but only got as far as figuring out the hormone peaks but not how to fix them.

I tried NPC and DIM as a shot in the dark for two months (which I know doesn`t make a ton of sense) and my skin radiant for the first half of my cycle (better than before) and then broke out really badly for the second half. Maybe estogen cream post-ovulation as an option?

Spiro is working for me but I see that is not an option for you.

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Thanks Emily54 :) What is NPC?

I'll ask my GP about oestrogen cream. (I'm in the UK and not currently seeing a dermatologist as it was a case of 'you can't have accutane and we've tried spiro and antibiotics')

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I've read a bit on here about oestrogen being bad for skin, progesterone being good etc. I'm a bit confused by the advice people have given as I seem to have to have the opposite problem and wondered if anyone else does....or if anyone can help....

During my period and up until ovulation: Oestrogen is slowly increasing to its peak. Progesterone is at its lowest.

- This is when my skin is at its best (not fabulous)

- My mood is also at its best (I have an anxiety disorder and associated depression)

Ovulation: Testosterone peaks, oestrogen drops

- My mood drops and I get a fresh breakout on my chin (cysts, spots with heads)

Post-ovulation, leading up to period: Progesterone at its highest

- My skin is bad from here until the second day of my period. Lots of chin cysts, big spots.

- My mood is bad - anxiety, panic, irritable

- Plus physical stuff like bloating, sore boobs, can't sleep.

It's worth saying that I am 41, and have a regular 28 day cycle (with regular ovulation). I have been tested and have 'normal hormonal levels'.

I am clearly sensitive to androgen as my skin improves when I take anti, or low-androgen combined pills, esp. Dianette (Diane) and Zoely. My mood/anxiety/depression also improves when I take the combined pill. My skin and mood gets much worse when I take a pill that has no oestrogen in it.

All of this seems to suggest to me that oestrogen and lowered androgens are my friends when it comes to my skin? And progesterone is not my friend?!

I can't take the combined pill currently due to high blood pressure. Spiro literally makes me vomit. So I am trialing saw palmetto capsules and spearmint tea in an effort to lower androgen levels. However I am a bit concerned that some online articles says saw palmetto lowers oestrogen (?), as I'm not sure that's going to be beneficial to me. I have also been very irritable since starting it, but that may be coincidence. (I'm also taking inositol, omega 3, b vitamins, zinc, chromium and drinking green tea - but that's not specifically for acne, and not in excessive levels)

Does anyone have any thoughts? Many thanks

I wrote something below about DIM for you..

With high blood pressure, you need to be careful of hormonal medication. Inositol might help, and so can DIM. B-complex helps some, but for me it caused breakouts in other areas...possibly due to the high % of B12 and biotin. Taking B8 (inositol) and B5 separately for a while could help more, along with a multivitamin that has lower % of the rest of the b complex.

I'm sure others who are more educated at this will chime in, but I wanted to say I have the same cycle of breakouts - calms down once I get my period, flares up at ovulation. I also tried to piece through the hormone/cycle connection but only got as far as figuring out the hormone peaks but not how to fix them.

I tried NPC and DIM as a shot in the dark for two months (which I know doesn`t make a ton of sense) and my skin radiant for the first half of my cycle (better than before) and then broke out really badly for the second half. Maybe estogen cream post-ovulation as an option?

Spiro is working for me but I see that is not an option for you.

I can see why you broke out with NPC during the second half of your cycle...some women adjust the dosage of NPC according to the day of the month, but it's very tricky trying to do that accurately.

I wouldn't recommend an estrogen cream, there are a lot of cancer warnings for synthetic estrogen. Maybe a natural estrogen cream, but those usually contain soy. Maybe DIM can help, as it lowers bad estrogens, but can indirectly help raise good estrogens.

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Thanks for your reply Wishclean So do you think my thinking is right - oestrogen and lower androgen is best for me, rather than increasing progesterone?

Unfortunately I have to have B12 shots as I have a malabsorption disorder, so no way around that. (Although I don't find it changes my skin too much). I take inositol everyday in decaff green tea for anxiety, so I'm pleased to hear it might help my skin also.

So DIM might be the way forward. Is the Saw Palmetto a bad idea in your opinion? I've just started using Origins topical 'Spot Remover' pads which has salicyclic acid and saw palmetto in it. I know saw palmetto works on follicles for hair loss, so I'm curious to see whether the topical saw palmetto makes a difference to my skin - if so I can stop taking it orally.

Thanks again :)

Edited by Theac
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Thanks for your reply Wishclean So do you think my thinking is right - oestrogen and lower androgen is best for me, rather than increasing progesterone?

Unfortunately I have to have B12 shots as I have a malabsorption disorder, so no way around that. (Although I don't find it changes my skin too much). I take inositol everyday in decaff green tea for anxiety, so I'm pleased to hear it might help my skin also.

So DIM might be the way forward. Is the Saw Palmetto a bad idea in your opinion? I've just started using Origins topical 'Spot Remover' pads which has salicyclic acid and saw palmetto in it. I know saw palmetto works on follicles for hair loss, so I'm curious to see whether the topical saw palmetto makes a difference to my skin - if so I can stop taking it orally.

Thanks again

Well, it's hard to say...usually progesterone helps balance other hormones and there are fewer risks involved with natural progesterone creams that increasing estrogen synthetically. Synthetic estrogen, such as that contained in birth control pills, can cause so many issues...that's why there's a whole list of potential risks inside birth control packs.

As for green tea, if it's helping you then keep it up but I did read conflicting reports on what it can do to androgens...some say it lowers them, others say it can indirectly raise them. However, that's only if you drink a gallon a day, so I think you are safe :)

I haven't heard of topical saw palmetto products, that's interesting....let me know if it works for you.

Personally, saw palmetto supplements didn't do much for my acne. They slightly helped with hair loss and reduced facial hair/fuzz a bit, but I think that saw palmetto indirectly raised my estrogen because I got melasma under my eyes. I'm still not sure what caused it, but I chose to switch to inositol because it has no side effects at regular doses, and then I added DIM for the melasma but somehow it's not helping with that at all. It did help a lot with PMS and mood swings though.

B12...I guess if you could just lower how much you are taking, that might help? Maybe switch to supplement form instead of injections? Those injections have a very high % of B12, and it goes straight into your blood stream.... but I understand that it's hard to avoid it. I was actually advised to take a b-complex and iron supplements, but I try to get those from my diet the best way I can because my skin just doesn't like b-complexes.

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Well, it's hard to say...usually progesterone helps balance other hormones and there are fewer risks involved with natural progesterone creams that increasing estrogen synthetically. Synthetic estrogen, such as that contained in birth control pills, can cause so many issues...that's why there's a whole list of potential risks inside birth control packs.

As for green tea, if it's helping you then keep it up but I did read conflicting reports on what it can do to androgens...some say it lowers them, others say it can indirectly raise them. However, that's only if you drink a gallon a day, so I think you are safe

I haven't heard of topical saw palmetto products, that's interesting....let me know if it works for you.

Personally, saw palmetto supplements didn't do much for my acne. They slightly helped with hair loss and reduced facial hair/fuzz a bit, but I think that saw palmetto indirectly raised my estrogen because I got melasma under my eyes. I'm still not sure what caused it, but I chose to switch to inositol because it has no side effects at regular doses, and then I added DIM for the melasma but somehow it's not helping with that at all. It did help a lot with PMS and mood swings though.

B12...I guess if you could just lower how much you are taking, that might help? Maybe switch to supplement form instead of injections? Those injections have a very high % of B12, and it goes straight into your blood stream.... but I understand that it's hard to avoid it. I was actually advised to take a b-complex and iron supplements, but I try to get those from my diet the best way I can because my skin just doesn't like b-complexes.

Thanks again Wishclean. I ordered nettle tincture online today to replace the saw palmetto. I am going to stop taking it for a while as I am incredibly irritable and low. (I'm beginning to go through withdrawal symptoms from an antidepressant for anxiety so it's difficult to work out what is causing what. But I do seem to be more irritable since adding in saw palmetto two weeks ago.)

I do need to keep with the B12 jabs as I don't absorb it through my stomach (I was deficient and had a whole world of awful symptoms - not being able to walk, hair falling out, losing my memory, losing sensation in my limbs and constant migraines being some of them.)

I'll let you know how it goes with the Origins pads. Fingers crossed. They're quite expensive but I'll pay it if it clears me up a bit. A friend got me onto the idea, as she was using saw palmetto on her scalp for androgenic alopecia, and when I read up on it I saw that follicles should theoretically be receptive to topical application.

I think I need to read up on hormones a bit more. I have difficulty understanding the oestrogen dominance theory. I don't understand why the well-known progesterone only pill side effects are low mood and acne, if progesterone is meant to be the better of the two for skin and mood. Similarly, why PMT symptoms happen when estrogen drops but progesterone is high. I also don't understand why the theory says that menopausal women have oestrogen dominance, when the menopause causes lowering of oestrogen - and doctors say that the menopause symptoms like flashes and acne are due to lower oestrogen. (NB I'm not saying it's wrong, I just don't understand it!) It makes me a little nervous of adding a progesterone supplement - largely because I'm worried about making my anxiety and PMT worse. I thought about trying agnus castus - but everyone I know that has had success with it has an underlying menstrual cycle problem, such as ovulation problems (which I don't have). Maybe I should just leave the hormonal supplements alone!

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Thanks again Wishclean. I ordered nettle tincture online today to replace the saw palmetto. I am going to stop taking it for a while as I am incredibly irritable and low. (I'm beginning to go through withdrawal symptoms from an antidepressant for anxiety so it's difficult to work out what is causing what. But I do seem to be more irritable since adding in saw palmetto two weeks ago.)

I do need to keep with the B12 jabs as I don't absorb it through my stomach (I was deficient and had a whole world of awful symptoms - not being able to walk, hair falling out, losing my memory, losing sensation in my limbs and constant migraines being some of them.)

I'll let you know how it goes with the Origins pads. Fingers crossed. They're quite expensive but I'll pay it if it clears me up a bit. A friend got me onto the idea, as she was using saw palmetto on her scalp for androgenic alopecia, and when I read up on it I saw that follicles should theoretically be receptive to topical application.

I think I need to read up on hormones a bit more. I have difficulty understanding the oestrogen dominance theory. I don't understand why the well-known progesterone only pill side effects are low mood and acne, if progesterone is meant to be the better of the two for skin and mood. Similarly, why PMT symptoms happen when estrogen drops but progesterone is high. I also don't understand why the theory says that menopausal women have oestrogen dominance, when the menopause causes lowering of oestrogen - and doctors say that the menopause symptoms like flashes and acne are due to lower oestrogen. (NB I'm not saying it's wrong, I just don't understand it!) It makes me a little nervous of adding a progesterone supplement - largely because I'm worried about making my anxiety and PMT worse. I thought about trying agnus castus - but everyone I know that has had success with it has an underlying menstrual cycle problem, such as ovulation problems (which I don't have). Maybe I should just leave the hormonal supplements alone!

Hormones are very hard to understand... the thing I know for sure is that synthetic hormones (such as progesterone) are not the same as natural hormones that the body produces. Everyone's adrenals make progesterone, but it's only the progesterone pill that causes acne...why? Because it's synthetic, and also because there are other ingredients involved. The body still can't recognize synthetic hormones as its own, that's why there is usually a long adjustment period, but on the flip side, the body can become too reliant on synthetic hormones to function on its own.

As for estrogen, there are 3 types (maybe more?) of estrogen, and one is the "bad" type...the one that increases risks of cancer and other symptoms. DIM is basically a high concentration of broccoli, and helps detoxify the bad estrogens that we get from plastic, soy, and the environment. Bad estrogen (I believe it's E1) is not to be confused with good estrogen (E2, if I remember correctly). Menopausal women can still have high levels of E1, and still have low overall estrogen levels. (E2 and/or E3).

If your cycles are normal, though, I don't recommend messing with your hormones at all.

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Hormones are very hard to understand... the thing I know for sure is that synthetic hormones (such as progesterone) are not the same as natural hormones that the body produces. Everyone's adrenals make progesterone, but it's only the progesterone pill that causes acne...why? Because it's synthetic, and also because there are other ingredients involved. The body still can't recognize synthetic hormones as its own, that's why there is usually a long adjustment period, but on the flip side, the body can become too reliant on synthetic hormones to function on its own.

As for estrogen, there are 3 types (maybe more?) of estrogen, and one is the "bad" type...the one that increases risks of cancer and other symptoms. DIM is basically a high concentration of broccoli, and helps detoxify the bad estrogens that we get from plastic, soy, and the environment. Bad estrogen (I believe it's E1) is not to be confused with good estrogen (E2, if I remember correctly). Menopausal women can still have high levels of E1, and still have low overall estrogen levels. (E2 and/or E3).

If your cycles are normal, though, I don't recommend messing with your hormones at all.

Ahhhh!!! Ok - so it's about the type of oestrogen. Thanks for explaining :)

Actually I say my cycles are normal, but since getting older (now 41) I occasionally have 18 day cycles with pretty much non-stop PMT. My GP suggested trying progesterone for the second half of my cycle to make my period start later if it becomes a more regular nuisance. I presume that would be artificial progesterone though, so cause acne and bad moods? (Which I have already ha! So it would just save on sanitary protection)

Thank you so much for your answers Wishclean. Sorry to sound like a hormonal thicko, I'm just trying to get my head round it all :)

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Ahhhh!!! Ok - so it's about the type of oestrogen. Thanks for explaining

Actually I say my cycles are normal, but since getting older (now 41) I occasionally have 18 day cycles with pretty much non-stop PMT. My GP suggested trying progesterone for the second half of my cycle to make my period start later if it becomes a more regular nuisance. I presume that would be artificial progesterone though, so cause acne and bad moods? (Which I have already ha! So it would just save on sanitary protection)

Thank you so much for your answers Wishclean. Sorry to sound like a hormonal thicko, I'm just trying to get my head round it all

No problem, I hope it's helpful. I'm not an expert on hormones by any means, but after asking questions to clueless doctors (including endocrinologists), I know that at least I have some grasp on the fundamentals.

Maybe your GP meant compounded progesterone cream? If so, that would be a better alternative to the progesterone pill or the patch. I tried the progesterone patch years ago, and I could only take it for 2 days tops...it severely affected my mood to the point where I didn't want to get out of bed. I suggest starting with a low dose, which is something you can only do if you try the cream. The cream needs to be soy-free..I have the kokoro cream but right now I'm not trying it out anymore until I get my hormones re-checked.

Shorter cycles could mean that your estrogen is high, and/or your progesterone is low, so the cream might be worth a try...ask your GP about it.

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No problem, I hope it's helpful. I'm not an expert on hormones by any means, but after asking questions to clueless doctors (including endocrinologists), I know that at least I have some grasp on the fundamentals.

Maybe your GP meant compounded progesterone cream? If so, that would be a better alternative to the progesterone pill or the patch. I tried the progesterone patch years ago, and I could only take it for 2 days tops...it severely affected my mood to the point where I didn't want to get out of bed. I suggest starting with a low dose, which is something you can only do if you try the cream. The cream needs to be soy-free..I have the kokoro cream but right now I'm not trying it out anymore until I get my hormones re-checked.

Shorter cycles could mean that your estrogen is high, and/or your progesterone is low, so the cream might be worth a try...ask your GP about it.

He meant an oral progesterone of some sort. He said shorter cycles were common in 'ladies of a certain age' (cheers for that doc!) The issue for me is I'm coming off the antidepressant so will have a re-emergence of the anxiety disorder and I already get terrible PMT (which again will probably get worse as my AD is used as a treatment for PMT). I don't want to make my cycle longer at the expense of my mood. So I'll definitely mention the cream to him if it becomes a bigger problem. Thanks again, it's been very helpful.

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