Hormonal Acne and PCOS in Women

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The polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS affects approximately 10% of women. It debuts during puberty when a woman starts to have a menstrual cycle. Most women that suffer from this condition also develop acne, hair loss, infertility issues, oily skin and hair. In order to get rid of acne, it is important to understand this condition and its effects on a woman’s body.

 

What is PCOS?

PCOS and acne

Ultrasound scan showing cysts in the ovary.

The exact cause of PCOS is not entirely known, although it seems to be a genetic condition in most cases. PCOS is also related to metabolism problems or insulin resistance, so women that suffer from this condition are more prone to diabetes. An ultrasound can determine if a woman has any cysts on her ovaries which can be a sign of PCOS. A blood test that determines hormonal imbalances is also required.

 

 

 

 

Why does PCOS cause acne?

A woman’s ovaries are supposed to produce a tiny amount of male hormones, also known as androgen hormones. In some women, the ovaries produces greater amounts of these hormones which can lead to many health issues. Androgen hormones affect the hair follicle which leads to the inflammatory condition known as acne. They also promote sebum production, which can get trapped inside the skin pores and produce pimples.

 

What are the signs of PCOS?

Besides acne, and cysts on the ovaries, there are other symptoms that can indicate a PCOS condition.

  • Absent or irregular menstrual cycles
  • Absence of ovulation which leads to infertility
  • Oily skin and hair
  • Pattern hair loss
  • Hirsutism (excessive facial, chest, or stomach hair)
  • Overweight
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Anxiety and sleep disorders

There can be a combination of any of these symptoms depending on each woman. Also, the symptoms can be very mild or very severe. During puberty, a woman may only experience irregular menstrual cycles, but as she gets older she might get acne breakouts and other disturbing symptoms.

 

What can you do if you have PCOS?

Women with PCOS need to be very careful about diet and lifestyle. Many women with PCOS can live a perfectly normal life, without much worry about what they eat or drink. However, PCOS is a condition that can trigger other illnesses, including severe cystic acne. This is why it is very important to make diet changes if necessary and to follow a healthy lifestyle in general.

There are certain foods that can decrease the level of testosterone, such as: fish, green veggies or wholegrain cereals. A diet that has too many calories can lead to higher levels of androgen hormones, so it is important to have an optimum caloric intake of around 1800-2000 calories per day.

There are also many plants that can stabilize your hormone levels, such as Vitex fruit which is an excellent tonic for the female reproductive system. Also, teas such as: liquorice, stinging nettle, yarrow, lady’s mantle, or raspberry leaves, can reduce the levels of testosterone if consumed for longer periods of time. All these plants can improve skin appearance and get rid of hormonal acne.

 

What about treating acne with birth control pills?

Since doctors don’t really have any cure for PCOS, they always recommend birth control pills to women that suffer from this condition. What birth control pills do, is inhibit the hormone production of the ovaries by providing the body with synthetic hormones. This is risky on many levels, and it is not a long term solution, especially for women that want to have children.

Women that suffer from diabetes , heart condition, liver problems, a family history of breast or liver cancer, depression or anxiety, should not take any type of contraceptive pills.

PCOS is a condition that can be kept under control through a healthy lifestyle, and with the help of natural supplements and herbs. Treating acne topically doesn’t give many results for women with PCOS. Thus, it is always necessary to stabilize hormones in order to get rid of acne for good.

 

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