Today on the show I am answering a question I received from a listener, we are going to be talking about how to stop acne or skin blemishes after getting off the pill. One of the things I teach my mastery students is to balance their hormones and live in alignment with their feminine current. Because, guess what, when our female bodies are out of balance hormonally, many times you’ll see symptoms like moodiness, pain, headaches, migraines, weight gain, and even acne. Notice I said symptoms because they are only the symptoms and not the root cause, and since on this show, I am all about helping mothers heal their bodies from the core, I will be answering this question from a body-mind perspective. Meaning, I’ll share with you the things you can do to help your skin topically, internally (in the form of food & supplements) and from a deeper psychospiritual perspective, looking into why your body is manifesting a dis-ease and the deeper healing message that comes from that. Before we get started, I just want to say that all the links to any products or resources I am going to mention on today’s show can be found over at my website www.healthbeginswithmom.com/ep-79.
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Alright, let’s jump into today’s topic. How to help heal your skin after coming off of a birth control pill? Or how to avoid it altogether?
Before I get into the ‘how’, let me start by sharing with you that the skin and acne, in particular, was a huge problem for me since I turned about 16. I remember them covering my face so much that I didn’t even have one clear spot on my skin, it was so bad! I don’t remember agonizing about it too much, although my mom was very, VERY, upset. My skin was red, my pimples were large and cystic and no matter what I’ve tried topically, nothing worked. Like nothing. My mom spent hundreds of dollars on creams, potions, lotions, cleansers, and doctors appointments. Nothing worked.
She did say a few times that I have to stop eating fried food, which was causing it, but honestly, as a teenager, I didn’t really have the level of maturity I now have to take a better care of myself. Besides, even though the fried food wasn’t good for me, somehow, it still ended up on my plate on a weekly basis because it was cheap and easy to make.
Eventually, it became so bad that my mom decided to take me to a specialist in hormones, and it happened that my mom’s brother is an OB/GYN. His recommendation to my problem was a birth control pill. So I have been on the birth control pill since the age of 17 until 21, that’s when I decided to stop taking it, and at the time, in full transparency, the reason wasn’t that of my health. I moved to Canada and I truly believed that because of the differences in climate, my skin will be good. Plus, I didn’t really need it anymore because I was single.
So I got off the pill at the age of 21 and although my skin wasn’t covered with acne completely, since then I don’t remember having a silky smooth. Knowing what I know now, my hormones were basically thrown off balance for five years and I am still working on stabilizing and healing after that. We’ll talk about this a bit later today, but for now, I just wanted you to know that acne, and skin blemishes are very close to my heart and I’m happy to share what I do and how I keep my skin under control inside and out. And, what kind of work I do to heal on a deeper level.
I am going to brake today’s episode into six sections:
First, we will talk about why birth control pills are recommended for acne. Second, what happens in the body when we take the pill. Third, we’ll get into what happens in the body once you decide to get off the pill and how that affects the skin. Fourth, we’ll talk about how you can help support yourself from the inside out, in terms of food and supplements. Fifth, we’ll get into skin hygiene and I’ll recommend a few products that were a game changer for me and my skin routine. I will mention not only creams and lotions, but also some makeup products I use to help cover blemishes when they arise, and they still do sometimes. And last but not least, we’ll talk about the psycho-spiritual aspect and what is the message your higher-self is sending you. This stuff is my jam, I LOVE helping women see the deeper level underneath their symptoms or health conditions.
Alright, let’s start from the beginning.
1. Why birth control pills are recommended for acne?
Why do girls as young as 14-year-old are prescribed with an oral contraceptive pill? It’s considered a treatment for gynecological disorders, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and it may help prevent uterine cancer, cervical cancer, and ovarian cysts. It’s used to manage premenstrual symptoms, irregular periods, heavy periods, painful periods, heavy bleeding and acne. Whether this is the best treatment for these issues is a topic for another show, but for now, I just want you to know that acne, as well as all the previous conditions I’ve mentioned earlier, are hormonal in nature, meaning that the body, for whatever reason is off balance hormonally. These girls usually would tell their moms that something is wrong, and their moms will then take them to the doctor, and from there the protocol is very similar in most cases. That’s how these girls end up being on the birth control pill for 10, 15 and sometimes 20 years, which has major consequences down the road. Once these young ladies get off the pill so many of them end up struggling with infertility, PMS, menstrual pain, depression, weight gain, hair growth in unwanted areas of the body, and of course acne. Basically, the grand reason why birth control pills are prescribed for acne is that this is the traditional medical protocol that is known to work, and it does, I can definitely attest to that. As long as I was on the pill, I didn’t have any acne. It was great! The problem is, that the pill doesn’t really treat any of the symptoms and conditions I’ve mentioned earlier, including acne. It is a band-aid solution, and the longer you took the pill the longer time your body was suppressed and numbed. I get it when we’re young healing is not really at the top of mind, so now that we are older and more mature this problem deserves a deeper look in terms of getting to the core of the issue and giving your body the nutrients it needs.
2. What happens in your body when you take a birth control pill?
Acne is often caused by an increase in the male hormone androgen. This hormone is present in women and becomes active in the teenage years for both men and women. Androgen causes sebaceous glands to produce more oil or sebum. Birth control pills decrease the circulating androgens, which decreases the production of sebum. By the way, for the birth control to work against acne it has to be a combination pill, meaning it must contain both estrogen and progestin. This means that your natural hormonal rhythm is being altered chemically, but in most cases, since the benefits outweigh the dangers, so many women, me included, stay on it. After all, having acne as a young lady is not pretty, and we all want to look good and attractive.
The birth control also alters the gut flora in your intestines. Imbalances in gut flora can lead to inflammation and skin symptoms, like acne, rashes, and even hives. We all know how badly antibiotics can affect our digestive tracts. But did you know birth control pills are just as bad as antibiotics for your gut? It’s true: the pill is throwing your gut out of whack, and in the process impairing your overall wellbeing. First of all, you have hormone receptors everywhere in your digestive tract and the added hormones in your body from the pill can affect those receptors, often leading to candida. So if you’re using hormonal birth control, you may have more yeast infections, which can lead to other problems like migraines, infertility, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, psoriasis, PMS, depression and digestive disorders. But the worst thing is that birth control pills overhaul the body with the hormone estrogen which is already a problem for most of us, to begin with, because many women don’t eliminate it efficiently and trapped estrogen leads to all the conditions I’ve mentioned earlier as well as acne. Estrogen is a naturally occurring hormone but when the liver is struggling with excreting it out of the body in the form of waste (aka poop), you have a very serious problem. So now, not only is your body already struggling with eliminating this naturally occurring hormone, you are ingesting a man-made form of estrogen which leads to toxicity. If your liver is weak or sluggish it would be extremely difficult to support the body and in that case, honestly, acne is not the worst problem you have.
3. Why do you get acne after stopping the birth control pill?
The acne outbreak most women have after stopping birth control usually comes a few months after stopping the pill. Most of this type of acne will be along the chin and jawline, and it would be deeper and more inflamed 10 days before your period. But appearance is not the only issue, this type of acne is painful too! Large, painful cystic type pimples are more of an indication of blockage, while puss-filled, infected acne indicates toxic buildup in the body. Which is a sign this is a hormonal problem.
I want to make something clear, some women start having acne after getting off the birth control pill even if they have never had acne before! So this is not something that is reserved only to those of us who’ve had acne previously as teenagers.
Hormonal contraceptives suppress your natural hormones, including testosterone. When you discontinue them, an “androgen rebound” occurs. Or in other words, your body kicks into high gear creating more testosterone. The elevated androgens cause an increase in sebum production, which is why oily skin is common, and acne follows.
4. How to heal acne after getting off the pill?
All of this sounds scary and worrisome, but for many women, this is just a reality and you can’t change the past. I am with you on that, I am also healing from the same issue. But, here’s the good news, there’s a lot you can do to balance your hormones after stopping the pill. We’ll talk about how to support yourself with food as well as some helpful supplements. Let’s start with food.
Certain foods raise your blood sugar more quickly than others. When your blood sugar rises quickly, it causes the body to release a hormone called insulin. Having excess insulin in your blood can cause your oil glands to produce more oil, increasing your risks of acne.
Because of their insulin-producing effects, these foods are considered “high-glycemic” carbohydrates. That means they’re made of simple sugars.
Some foods that trigger spikes in insulin include:
- white rice
- white bread
Eating low-glycemic foods made of complex carbohydrates may reduce your risk of developing acne. Complex carbohydrates are found in the following foods:
- whole grains
- unprocessed fruits and vegetables
Foods containing these ingredients are also thought to be beneficial for the skin because they reduce inflammation.
Another side effect of the pill is that it depletes nutrients like crazy, including zinc, which is essential for immune function and skin health.
- the mineral zinc – keeps your testosterone in check, helps your skin flourish, and support the immune system in regulating the bacteria that can lead to acne. Foods that contain zinc are pumpkin seeds, cashews, beef, turkey, quinoa, lentils, seafood such as oysters and crab.
- vitamin A and E are also depleted with the pill, and the foods you can eat that are high in vitamin A are carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cantaloupe, apricots, spinach, kale, and collard greens. Vitamin E is present in Nuts (such as almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts), Seeds (such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds) and Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and broccoli).
- Antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids – Omega-3s are a type of fat found in certain plants and animal-protein sources, such as fish and eggs. Antioxidants are chemicals that neutralize damaging toxins in the body. Together, omega-3s and antioxidants are thought to reduce inflammation. Studies largely support the connection between an increase in consumption of omega-3s and Antioxidants and a decrease in acne.
The best diet advice in dealing with acne appears to be eating a wholesome, anti-inflammatory balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy protein sources, and whole grains.
In my opinion, your first course of action should always be food and diet, but I do understand that you are a busy person and food is not always the easiest and quickest option. So, in this case, I recommend adding a few supplements to your diet to help keep your acne under control. There are many good supplements out there that can help with acne, but if I have to choose the top three, they would be Fish oil (which is a source of Omega-3 fatty acids), zinc and a good quality probiotic to help support the gut and eliminate excess estrogen out of the body.
5. My skin hygiene and skin routine
I promised to share my skin-care routine just to give you an example of how I take care of my skin. So number one, I have switched all of my beauty products to cleaner or organic about 8 years ago as I found that many beauty products are loaded with toxins, carcinogens, and estrogen-mimicking chemicals which I definitely don’t want on my skin. Since the skin is your largest organ, anything you put on your skin will end up in your bloodstream so I highly recommend starting from switching your beauty products to cleaner products.
I have used many different cleaner brands but my favorite of them is by a company called Shelby Naturals ( I actually had Shelby, the owner on the podcast a few months ago, so if you’re interested to learn more about her products make sure to listen to episode 27).
What I like about Shelby’s products is that the ingredients are all active, meaning they are recognizable by the body and are actually helping the skin to produce collagen and elastin which are essential for a beautiful and supple skin. All ingredients are organic and some of them are actually wildcrafted. I also love that these products have antioxidants that help to detoxify the skin and nourish it from the outside protecting it from the sun, environmental damage and even hard water.
I cleanse my skin with an oil-based cleanser, then apply a toner, serum, and moisturizer. I will have the links to all the exact products in the show notes, which you can find over at my www.healthbeginswithmom.com/ep-79.
As far as my makeup routine, I personally don’t like anything that is too heavy on the skin, so I always look for products that allow my skin to breathe. Until recently I have used makeup products by a company called Arbonne, which I really liked. I have also tried many other organic foundations and cosmetic products and to be honest, didn’t find anything that matches my needs. The ones I’ve tried were too dark or too heavy for me, but again, this is individual so I think you should find the brand you resonate with. I have recently found a few products at a local beauty store and was surprised to see that, although they are not organic, they are cleaner than conventional brands. Which made me happy, because this means that the market is demanding cleaner products and higher quality products. So currently I am using a liquid foundation by a company called Nude By Nature, and it’s nice. I find that being loyal to a particular brand doesn’t work for me as my skin gets used to it and after a while doesn’t work as well. So listen to your body and skin and don’t be afraid to try different products until you find something that feels good.
6. Psychospiritual perspective on why you have adult acne?
Louise Hay, the author of the book, You Can Heal Your Life says: “The skin represents how we present ourselves to the world, as a reflection of how we see ourselves. It is highly sensitive and absorbent so it reflects minor changes in our internal and external environment. When we show healthy, glowing skin to the world, we feel good about ourselves, complete in our own reflection. When our skin is irritated or inflamed, it is an indication that there is a frustration stemming from how we see ourselves.
Any consistent imperfection of the skin is a sign that we are seeing ourselves as inadequate in some way: an imperfect self-perception will naturally create an imperfect exterior.”
So, like I always say, symptoms are not a punishment although I understand they are annoying and inconvenient. Rather, they are a stepping stone towards a better health as well as a layer in our healing journey. All of us are healing from a thing or another, regardless of what you are healing from, your higher-self will always pull you towards the best version of you. So, in this case, numbing it down or denying yourself of true healing (not only surface level but true healing that comes from the inside out), will result in acne or other facial blemishes.
I hope today’s content was helpful for you! Please let me know if you have any questions, you can find me on FB or Instagram @doritpalavnov.
If you need help to heal from a health issue that has been bugging you for a while and is keeping you stuck, unhappy and unwell, you can book an intensive coaching session with me by going to calendly.com/doritpalvanov. You have two options, either a 90 minute or a 3-hour intensive coaching session. Choose the one that suits you best. But please stop putting yourself on the backburner. You matter. You can’t change the world in poor health. Reach out for help, show up for yourself. I challenge you to do that for yourself. You can find that link in the show notes of this episode over at www.healthbeginswithmom.com/ep-79
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