Hormonal acne is a difficult and distressing condition for women to deal with. Not only does it cause physical discomfort and embarrassment, but it can have a significant impact on our mental health. The unpredictable nature of breakouts causes stress and anxiety, and you may feel like you have little control over your skin. It can be especially difficult if you are the mother of an adolescent daughter who is struggling with hormonal acne.
She may be navigating the challenges of puberty and developing her sense of self-worth and identity while going through physical and emotional discomfort and feeling self-conscious about her appearance. You may feel powerless to help her, and it can be distressing to see her trying various treatments without success.
What is Hormonal Acne?
Hormonal acne in women is caused by an increase in androgen hormones such as testosterone, which can cause an overproduction of oil in the skin. This excess oil can clog pores, leading to inflammation and acne. During a woman's menstrual cycle, an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone levels can contribute to the development of hormonal acne. As estrogen levels drop, testosterone becomes more dominant and can cause an increase in sebum production, leading to acne.
Additionally, progesterone levels can also increase oil production in the skin. Certain medications such as birth control pills, androgen-releasing hormones, and anabolic steroids can also cause an imbalance of hormones, which can lead to acne. Other factors that can contribute to hormonal acne include stress, poor diet, and lack of sleep. It is common for birth control pills also known as 'The Pill' to be prescribed as a treatment for hormonal acne, and it is understandable if you have reservations about this option.
The Pill works by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg each month. It also thickens the fluid around the cervix (opening to the uterus or womb) to prevent the sperm from entering.
The side effects from taking the PillThe Pill is a synthetic hormonal that can have potential side effects and long-term risks. Possible side effects can include:
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Nausea or vomiting
- Spotting or breakthrough bleeding
- Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Changes in sex drive
- Vaginal infections
It's important to note that these side effects vary from person to person and not everyone will experience them.
Can the pill cause serious health problems?
Better Health Victoria states "The pill causes a very small increase in your risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clot), heart attack or stroke. It may also lead to a tiny increase in your risk of breast cancer." Like us, you may feel like the words 'tiny' and 'small' don't make me feel better about these risks.
If you experience any severe side effects, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. With this in mind as well as the understanding that hormonal acne can be a symptom of underlying hormonal imbalances that the Pill does not address, it's understandable if you have reservations about the Pill for hormonal acne.
Interested in learning more, watch The Business of Birth Control documentary and Podcast 'What you should know about the Birth Control Pill'. "The Business of Birth Control" is a documentary that explores the history and current state of the birth control industry. It examines the ways in which birth control has been marketed and sold, and the impact that this has had on women's health and reproductive rights.
The documentary also looks at the role of pharmaceutical companies in the development and distribution of birth control methods, and the ways in which they have profited from these products. Additionally, it examines the politics surrounding birth control and the ongoing debate over access to birth control and reproductive healthcare. Overall, it aims to provide a comprehensive and critical examination of the birth control industry and its impact on individuals, society, and culture. Watch it here.
A Natural Solution to Hormonal AcneUnderstanding that hormonal acne can be a symptom of underlying hormonal imbalances and the Pill or over the counter acne treatment can only have a temporary effect and not address the underlying cause of the problem. How do we address the underlying cause of hormonal acne? To address the underlying cause of hormonal acne, it's important to take a holistic approach that addresses the various factors that can contribute to hormonal imbalances. Some steps that may be helpful include:
- Diet: Eating a diet that is high in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and low in processed foods, sugar and dairy can help reduce inflammation in the body and improve hormonal balance.
- Stress management: Stress can contribute to hormonal imbalances and worsen acne. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, EFT Tapping, can help improve overall health and reduce acne.
- Skincare: Using skincare products that are non-comedogenic and don't clog pores, such as cleansers, moisturisers, and sunscreens that are oil-free can help prevent acne from forming.
- Seed cycle: Seed cycling works by responding to the body’s nutritional needs. Uses a combination of seeds to support your body and hormonal changes at different stages of your cycle. By bringing together sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and linseeds seeds at different stages of your cycle we can boost omega 3s, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Easily added to smoothies, a salad, porridge or soup.
- Work with a Holistic Dermal Clinician - It's helpful to work with a Holistic Dermal Clinician to identify the cause and develop a treatment plan that addresses all of the underlying causes, this plan can be inclusive of seed cycling, lifestyle changes and a natural skincare routine. We love Sally from The Skin Wellness Studio who can help you create a customised and realistic plan based on the severity of your acne and your overall health. Working with Sally you will feel seen, heard and fully supported.
It is important to note that addressing underlying causes of hormonal acne may take some time and it's important to be patient and persistent with the treatment. It is also important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate course of treatment for you.
Seed Cycling for Hormonal Acne
Seed cycling is an natural therapy that involves consuming specific types of seeds at different points in the menstrual cycle in order to balance hormones and improve symptoms of hormonal acne. The basic idea behind seed cycling is that different seeds contain different types of hormones and nutrients that can support various hormone-related functions in the body. For example, seeds that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, such as flax and pumpkin seeds, help balance estrogen levels.
On the other hand, seeds that are high in zinc and healthy fats, such as sesame and sunflower seeds, help balance testosterone levels. These seeds are also high in Vitamin E, which can help to balance the effects of progesterone.
The specific seed cycling protocol involves eating 1 tablespoon of organic, ground flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds each day during the first half of the menstrual cycle (days 1-14), and then switching to 1 tablespoon of organic, ground sesame and sunflower seeds each day during the second half of the menstrual cycle (days 15-28). This mimics the natural fluctuations in hormone levels that occur during a menstrual cycle.
The process is repeated with each menstrual cycle. Access our Seed Cycling Resources including our FREE Seed Cycling Hormonal Guide here - https://theseedcycle.com.au/seed-cycling-resources/