Acne is a common reason women start birth control & it is a big reason women are fearful of coming off. Post-birth control syndrome acne can show up anywhere—your face, your chest, your neck, your back, and even your booty can present with pimples.
PBCS acne is common, even if you never had acne before starting birth control. And it is among one of the most common post-birth control symptoms. There are several contributing factors to post-birth control syndrome acne.
What Causes Post-Birth Control Syndrome Acne?
There are several factors that contribute to post-birth control syndrome acne. Many of which are a direct result from what birth control has done to our bodies while on it.
Birth Control Nutrient Depletions
Nutrient depletions caused by birth control can make your skin symptoms worse. Zinc, for example, is necessary for healthy immune function and skin. It has the ability to inhibit bacteria from growing in your sweat glands, which is one way that pimples arise.
Zinc is necessary for helping you use vitamin A. Vitamin A is well recognized for its ability to support healthy skin and reduce acne.
Androgen Rebound (Testosterone Back with a Vengeance)
Androgen rebound is something I talk about a lot in my book, Beyond the Pill, because that testosterone coming back rapidly post-birth control can cause you skin to flare like crazy and make you want to jump back on.
Testosterone is an androgen that causes an increase in oil production. It can also be responsible for acne on the jawline.
Birth Control is Bad for Your Gut
Birth control messes with your microbiome in the worst of ways. It can lead to leaky gut (intestinal hyperpermeability), which in turn, can lead to food sensitivities, increased inflammation, and even autoimmune disease. Yikes!
The pill has been shown to cause changes to the oral, vaginal and gut flora. This can leave you more susceptible to infection. Plus, imbalances in good gut bugs can lead to further hormone imbalance.
Whenever acne is the main complaint with my patients, the gut is the first place I look. If your gut isn’t functioning properly then your skin can be a common area for your body to express that disharmony.
Overwhelmed Liver Detox
The liver is the main organ that has to process all those hormones and get them ready to move out. And if it doesn't do its job well then acne can flare. You need a liver that is detoxing and bowels that are moving if you stand any chance at getting rid of acne.
While some would argue that hormonal birth control isn’t too much for the liver to handle, I’d like you to consider a couple of things.
High Amounts of Synthetic Hormones
You need enough hormones to shut down your brain and ovary communication. That is how the pill works. It floods the system with so much hormones that the brain doesn’t bother signaling the ovaries to make more. These hormones you make naturally are vital to fertility and ovulation.
While the newer pills have lower hormones, they still contain enough to shut down FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) signaling to the ovary and have side effects.
The Environment is Toxic AF
We’ve got phthalates, BPA, BPS, and plastic endocrine disruptors coming at us every which way!
We all eat or drink out of plastic at some point. Straws, water bottles, cups, and other plastics contain harmful chemicals that must be detoxified by the liver. And even if you aren’t drinking out of plastic, all those other billions of people are dumping this into our environment and our water supply. Yikes!
Then there are the pesticides, herbicides, perfumes, air fresheners, dryer sheets…am I freaking you out yet? I don’t mean to be, but we all need to understand that our liver is working overtime on the daily due to the changes in the environmental toxin load. Now you add the pill and based on your genes and your environment, this can be enough to overwhelm your detox system.
And your body, being brilliant like she is, has to push this junk out. Your skin is one way in which you detox and while your acne is the worst, understand that it is your body doing the best she can to keep your vital organs safe. And it is a sign that you need to look deeper because your body is begging for it and getting your attention in an unsightly way.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by this info, you need to check out Lara Adler's class during our free online women's hormone conference. She lays down the facts and then gives you actionable steps to start cleaning up your environment in a sustainable way.
What to do About Post-Birth Control Syndrome Acne?
Bump Your Nutrients That Are Lost Because of Birth Control
Dial in your diet to be nutrient dense. Need help getting started? Grab my Quick Start Guide, which has a sample meal plan and outlines the foods you need to be eating if you’re on the pill or coming off.
Consider a prenatal vitamin to replenish the nutrients the pill has depleted. B12, folate, selenium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin C and other nutrients are vital to your hormonal health and can be lower in women who are on birth control or have ever used it. Prenatal vitamins are higher in nutrients to help you replenish what has been lost.
Blood Sugar Balance is a Must
If testosterone is your issue then working to balance your blood sugar is a must. When your blood sugar is wild then your ovaries and adrenals get the signal to make androgens.
Eat regular meals and include protein and fat with each meal. This will help you optimize your blood sugar, which will balance all your hormones.
Support Estrogen and Testosterone Metabolism
There are specific nutrients your liver requires to effectively detox your hormones. And you know what, those happen to be some of the same depleted by the pill.
Using a supplement that is formulated with DIM, Calcium-D-Glucarate, green tea extract, and broccoli seed extract will support natural liver detox pathways, plus how your gut eliminates excess estrogen.
Balance by Dr. Brighten is a comprehensive women's formula designed to harmonize sex hormones and improve common hormone related issues. Formulated with B Vitamins, antioxidants and hormone supporting herbs, this product helps support the body in eliminating excess estrogens and environmental toxins.
Probiotics for Gut Support
Is birth control bad for my gut? Can I take probiotics with birth control? If these are some of your top questions know that you’re not alone. These questions are sent to me regularly from readers.
Yes, birth control is bad for your gut, as I explained above. And yes, you can take probiotics while using birth control. In fact, you should take probiotics because birth control disrupts the microbiome.
In my clinical practice I recommend MegaSporeBiotic because it is a spore based organism that promotes microbial diversity in the gut. It also helps with creating healthy antioxidant status in the body. And it doesn’t cause the same kind of issues a Lactobacillus species can if you have SIBO.
Balance, Prenatal Plus, and MegaSporeBiotic are all part of the post-birth control basic supplement kit that you can check out here.
Eat Fiber Daily
You have to poop to get your estrogen out! And if you’re using probiotics then you need to feed those critters. They eat fiber, the stuff you can’t digest, and it helps them thrive.
When your gut bugs are in check and your bowels move daily then you’re less likely to suffer from acne and your hormones can begin to balance.
Eat artichokes, flax seeds, chia seeds, avocados, onions, garlic, celery, and as many plants as you can fit on your plate!
Join Post-Birth Control Syndrome Awareness Week
During our free online women’s hormone conference we have several experts teaching women how to eliminate acne naturally. Whether or not you've ever been on birth control, you want this information! Register Here.
If you are struggling with post-birth control syndrome acne, go register now and you'll get instant access to Jenn Pike’s class on acne solutions.
During this conference we have an entire class track dedicated to skin health with experts like Jen Fugo from Gluten Free School, Dr. Trevor Cates (the Spa Dr.), Rachael Pontillo, Lara Adler (who shares a lot about environmental toxins without overwhelm), Dr. Tony Youn (a holistic beauty doc), Summer Bock (fermentationist and microbiome expert), and so many more!
There is a whole lot more you will learn in these classes that begin November 5th. Together, we are teaching women how to heal their hormones naturally and raising awareness about post-birth control syndrome.
Hope to see you there!
Dr. Jolene Brighten
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