The ultimate hormone disruptor – the pill and why it isn’t curing your acne.
A modern pioneer of womens liberation, the oral contraceptive pill has given women sexual freedom since the 60’s. Aside from its primary purpose of contraception, the pill is often prescribed to control acne, but it is a long term solution?
How the pill works essentially, is by increasing a protein in the blood called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) SHBG binds to hormones to render them unavailable to the body, therefore preventing ovulation and pregnancy.
In cases of acne, often the way the pill is controlling breakouts is by the increase in SHBG reducing levels of available androgens- a group of hormones including testosterone which can be responsible for excessive oil production in the skin.
The pill can be effective in the control of acne during the course of taking the medication, however, if the causative issues aren’t addressed, once coming off the pill the acne is very likely to return, and often with a vengeance.
Introducing the epidemic of adult acne. So often seen in women in their 20’s and 30’s who decide to come off the pill as part of a pre-conception plan. This aggravation can be almost immediate in some cases, others 3-12months after cessation. I see this over and over again in practice, often in clients who have never had an issue with acne before coming off the pill.
The pill is the ultimate hormone disruptor because it is the ultimate xenoestrogen. Xenoestrogens are a whole new ball game that just add fuel to the fire here. Synthetic oestrogens (classed as xenoestrogens) found in the pill can throw out balance in oestrogen metabolism. Being prescribed the pill to treat acne may have a bandaid effect while taking the medication but ultimately, the hormone disrupting effects the pill can have may lead to more issues once coming off the pill. A bandaid effect but not a long term solution.
So what should you do if you want to come off the pill and balance your hormones for your skin and general health? Salivary hormone testing is an excellent way to investigate and is a simple non-invasive test you can do at home.
Saliva is the most accurate medium to attain a comprehensive profile of female, male and stress hormones to understand the foundational causes of acne and other hormonal issues such as irregular periods, endometriosis and pcos.
A wash out period is required- the first bleed you have after cessation of the pill is a withdrawal bleed. You can take your test on day 21 of your first true cycle (day 1 is the first day of bleed) Please note, you cannot test if you are on the pill or any form of hormonal contraception such as the mirena.
Contact me to arrange a test kit and consultation here
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I’m Brooke Venables, I’m a naturopath, acne specialist and an ex-acne sufferer. I’ve been there, I know what you’re going through.