These are just some of the top search terms Google throws up about the oral contraceptive Pill. Clearly, we have a lot of unanswered questions, and none more so than the connection between the Pill and our skin.
\nCan I take The Pill continuosly to skip my period, and is it safe?\t
\nThe right doctor and the right contraception. Harder than you think\t
\nWhat should I know about taking The Pill as someone under 18
Whether we breakout right before our period or are battle painful cystic acne into adulthood, finding the right acne treatment for our skin can be a challenge. Although hormonal treatments (such as using certain types of the Pill) can work wonders for some women, for others it can even make our acne worse.
So, what role does the Pill play in treating acne? What different types of acne exist? And, most importantly, why doesn’t the Pill cure acne for everyone?
Most of us will experience acne at some point in our lives, making it one of the most common skin conditions. In fact, it’s estimated 85% of Australians aged 15-24 years old will experience acne.
The occasional pimple or breakout can be frustrating, but consistent and painful acne is more disruptive than that. So, what causes this condition to occur?
Typically, acne is caused by blockages in sebaceous glands close to the surface of our skin. These tiny glands are near our hair follicles and work to lubricate the hair through producing an oily substance called sebum. If these tiny holes become blocked, they can cause whiteheads, blackheads, or even cysts if infected by bacteria on the skin.
Blockages are typically caused by dead skin cells and sebum, and can build up in our pores to create plugs. Our hormones have a big role to play in the skin’s production of oil, which has caused many sufferers to turn to hormonal birth control as an acne solution.
● Our weight
● Our lifestyle and activity levels
● Being pregnant
● Having an underlying condition, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome
Acne is most common during adolescence (when our hormones are going haywire). Although teenage boys experience bouts of acne due to higher levels of male androgens, women and teenage girls often experience acne in sync with their cycle. This comes back to changes in our hormone levels, with varying levels of estrogen shown to increase the chance of blockages and inflamed pores.
Despite all being caused by blocked pores, not all breakouts are the same. In fact, acne fits into two broad categories: non-inflammatory and inflammatory.
As the name would suggest, inflamed acne causes red, swollen and deeply-clogged pores that are infected by bacteria, often painful and hard to get rid of. In contrast, non-inflammatory acne is closer to the skin’s surface, doesn’t cause swelling and isn’t infected by bacteria (usually presenting as whiteheads or blackheads).
Identifying which type of acne you have is the first step towards finding a successful treatment. In the case of mild non-inflammatory acne, over-the-counter topical treatments are often effective (such as products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl-peroxide). For more severe cases of inflamed acne, speaking with a dermatologist is often necessary to find the right oral prescription to suit your situation.
Another key type of acne is hormonal acne: breakouts tied to changes in our hormones. This type of acne usually presents on the bottom of the face around the lower cheeks or jawline and takes a variety of forms depending on severity. In many cases, hormonal acne causes cystic bumps under the skin that can’t be reached by over-the-counter topical medications. In these cases, hormonal treatments (such as the oral contraceptive Pill) are commonly recommended to rebalance the body’s hormones and reduce hormonal breakouts.
Acne might be most common during our teenage years, but many of us still battle pimples well into our 20s and beyond. For those of us navigating adult acne (acne that continues after the age of 25), the condition can cause a major hit to our mood and self-confidence.
Women are more likely to encounter adult acne than men, which leads researchers to believe that hormonal changes linked with our menstrual cycle have an important role to play in causing adult acne. But there is a range of factors that can cause adult acne including stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, lifestyle factors, and even some medications (including certain corticosteroids, antidepressants, and epilepsy treatments).
In more severe cases, adult acne presents as a type of inflammatory acne that causes redness, swelling, irritation, and deep cysts (that can lead to scarring of the skin over time). However, some adult acne presents as milder forms of blackheads, whiteheads or papules.
The hormones contained in the Pill can play a role in reducing acne. Particularly for those suffering from hormonal acne, the Pill can lower the circulation of androgens which also decreases the production of sebum (a.k.a. oil production on the skin). Less oil can mean less acne for some women.
However, effective acne reduction is only seen with types of contraception that contain a combination of both estrogen and progestin. That means the minipill (which contains only progestin) won’t have an impact on improving acne.
For those of us who experience breakouts in sync with our cycle, the Pill can be an effective acne treatment. When looking for acne-fighting Pill prescriptions, your doctor should recommend a Pill variation that contains progestin with a low androgenic possibility (which helps to stabilises the hormone levels in the body). In most cases, it will take a few months to see the full impacts so it’s important to be patient.
When it comes to combined oral contraceptive pills, the research suggests there aren’t big differences in effectiveness between different types of the Pill. Some of the most comprehensive research on hand is a 2012 review by Cochrane Review, which looked at 31 trials of birth control as a means of acne treatment.
After comparing the results across 12,579 participants, the review found there were no significant differences in acne reduction across various types of the combined Pill. Although there is some evidence suggesting Pills containing drospirenone were more effective in acne reduction, the impacts weren’t significant enough to cause doctors to favour one type over another.
And that brings us to the important conundrum: why doesn’t the Pill work for everyone? It all comes down to the type of acne you have and the factors causing these breakouts to occur.
For those who haven’t noticed an improvement in their skin after 3 months of using the oral contraceptive Pill, it’s important to speak with your GP to understand the root cause of the acne. In some cases, the Pill can actually cause acne (as certain formulas can contain acne-causing strains of the hormone progestin).
It’s important to speak with your GP to rule out any underlying conditions that may be causing breakouts to still occur while on the Pill, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). If there is another condition at play, topical products and even hormonal treatments often won’t work effectively in resolving acne.
Although the Pill might be an effective acne treatment for some, it isn’t a cure-all for every woman. It might be a process of trial-and-error for a number of different treatment methods before finding the solution. So, make sure to speak with your doctor to find the right treatment plan to suit your skin.\x3c!--kg-card-begin: html--\x3e
Remember PooPourri’s 2013 ad poking fun at the idea that girls don’t poop?
Like so many outdated stereotypes, what women do in the bathroom is shrouded in shame and secrecy. Apparently, chatting about the inner workings of our bowels is a gendered frontier we’re yet to cross.
The reality is that going to the bathroom is something we all do. And for women? Bowel movements during our period can be particularly gnarly.
Just because we don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Period poop is very much a thing that most of us experience, often on a monthly basis. If you experience changes in the consistency, frequency, and even the smell of your bowel movements during your period, you’re not alone.
So, why do we find ourselves rushing to the bathroom all the time during our period? What’s the deal with cramping, bloating, and constipation? And why are we constantly losing our tampons to the toilet bowl? Let’s demystify everything there is to know about period poop.
In fact, very little is known about the scale and scope of gastrointestinal (GI) complaints by women during menstruation. It’s not a surprise really. Let’s face it, no one likes talking about what happens on the toilet.
But researchers are beginning to dig into the issue.
A 2014 study of 156 healthy, premenopausal women attempted to resolve this lack of research by investigating the GI symptoms women experience before and during that time of the month. The study found a whopping 73% of respondents experienced at least one of the primary GI symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or vomiting) both before and/or during their period. Abdominal pain was the most common (58% pre and 55% during) followed by diarrhoea (24% pre and 28% during).
There are also certain chronic conditions, like endometriosis, that are well known for causing painful bowel motions. These symptoms can occur at any point of your cycle – particularly just before and right after. For a great read on how endometriosis causes pain in the pelvis and bowel, check out Endometriosis Australia\'s guide here.
There’s still a lot more to be done when it comes to researching bowel movements during menstruation. But, some helpful insights do explain why we experience bloating, diarrhoea and constipation during that time of the month.
You can thank the chemical compound prostaglandins for this.
When we’re about to begin our period, the cells contained in the lining of our uterus begin to produce the chemical prostaglandins. This helps our uterus to shed its lining (a.k.a. kick-start our period bleed) by stimulating the muscles in our uterus.
But if our body produces too many prostaglandins, these chemicals can enter our bloodstream and have the same effect on other parts of the body (such as our bowels). The results? You’ll be running to the bathroom a whole lot faster (and more often).
And for the caffeine addicts among us, our morning cuppa can be making things a whole lot worse. When we’re feeling fatigued (the way many of us feel when we’re coming up to our period), we tend to up our coffee dose. But since coffee has a laxative effect on the body, it’s likely to intensify everything.
To help curb the rush to the bathroom, you can switch out your morning grind for decaffeinated coffee, or cut down your coffee quantities altogether. But if you can’t ditch your morning brew? Make sure you’re drinking lots of H2O to beat dehydration.
But that’s not where the story ends for prostaglandins. These chemicals can also heighten our experiences of pain, with raised levels of prostaglandins found to cause more intense cramps and contractions of the uterus. Plus prostaglandins are shown to cause inflammation which can also cause women to experience uncomfortable bloating of the uterus too.
Again, this one comes back to prostaglandins as well as our hormones. When we experience low levels of prostaglandins combined with high quantities of the hormone progesterone, our digestive system goes haywire. In most cases, this leads to slower digestion and the dreaded pains of constipation.
As we reach ovulation, the levels of progesterone in the body are at an all-time high. Although these hormones are helpful in growing and thickening the uterine walls, a build-up of these hormones can also lead to our poop going MIA. This is why you might experience constipation during and a couple of days after ovulation.
The good news? Once our hormone levels re-stabilise after ovulation, these symptoms typically pass and our bowel movements return to normal. However, if you experience constipation for more than 2 weeks, make sure to chat with your GP to assess what is causing the problem and to ensure nothing more serious is going on.
Cramps, constipation, bloating and diarrhoea are incredibly painful in their own right. But when you\'re on your period, going to the bathroom can be a whole lot more uncomfortable. So what causes this pain during that time of the month?
When we’re constipated, our bowel movements become harder and often more painful to pass. Throw in a bout of menstrual cramps and pre-period diarrhoea and you’ve got a gnarly recipe for a painful trip to the bathroom.
Often, it can be hard to distinguish between painful cramps and needing to go to the bathroom. In fact, the contractions that our uterus and bowel experience are caused by the same chemical: prostaglandins. In most cases, a low level of pain and discomfort is normal.
However, it’s important to chat with your GP if you experience intense pain (even once you’ve had a bowel movement), severe diarrhoea for more than two days as well as prolonged diarrhoea accompanied by a high fever, chills, vomiting or fainting.
Losing your tampon during a bowel movement is very common. This is because the pelvic muscles used to keep your tampon in place are also used during a visit to the bathroom. If we encounter constipation, straining can also cause our tampon to dislodge.
We can’t change the way our bodies work, but we can take a few practical steps to alleviate the likelihood of losing our tampons to the toilet bowl. These include:
● Adding fibre-rich foods to our diets such as whole-grain bread and pasta, fruits and veggies
● Drinking extra water to help digestion and prevent dehydration
● Switching tampons for menstrual cups that are less likely to dislodge
As common as period poop might be, it’s important to recognise when things aren’t normal. In some cases, severe symptoms can be an indication of an underlying gastrointestinal or even gynaecological issue that should be addressed by a medical professional.
Some of the symptoms to watch out for include:
● Severe cramps or abdominal pain
● Heavy periods
● Rectal bleeding
● Mucus in your stool
If you experience these symptoms and they persist or even become more severe, make sure to book in to speak with your GP. Your doctor will be able to advise on the best course of action and treatment to help alleviate these uncomfortable symptoms.
Period poop is more common than you’d think. Although cramping, constipation, diarrhoea, and bloating are incredibly uncomfortable, most of these symptoms will ease during the course of your cycle.
However, if your symptoms are prolonged and severe, make sure to speak with your GP to ensure there isn’t an underlying issue causing your discomfort and pain.\x3c!--kg-card-begin: html--\x3e
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-you-get-diarrhea-constipation-or-both-during-your-perio d/ https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation/eating-diet-nutrit ion