TRT NEWS AND RESEARCH
Between stress, birth control, and menstruation, here’s how hormones are affecting your skin
Hormones get a bad rap, especially during puberty. From mood swings to newfound body odor to acne—every uncomfortable thing that happens in our teen years gets blamed on the non-stop raging hormones in our bodies. So when we’re still getting breakouts long after our teen years, it’s easy to believe we should’ve grown out of this skin-irritating phase. But, here’s an unfortunate news flash: Hormones never stop affecting our bodies and skin and hormonal acne doesn’t care how old you are.
According to cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green, when hormones are out of sync, “they can wreak havoc on our skin.” While that might sound a bit harsh and unforgiving, hormones can also be a really positive thing. “When our hormones are in sync, it creates harmony [without our bodies].” Either way, hormones play a vital role in our bodies, so it’s not so much about the hormones themselves, but the factors that disturb the balance, which is what causes the hormonal imbalance.
For many of us, factors that cause hormonal imbalances like stress, menstruation, and birth control prescriptions are common and cyclical, and often overlap. And dealing with breakouts on top of stress and period cramps is a punishment equal to, well, being sentenced to puberty again. So to get to the bottom of this issue, we talked with experts to breakdown these factors and learn how to better manage them in order to keep hormonal breakouts at bay.
How hormones can affect your skin
To better understand how hormones affect our skin, we first need to talk about “sebaceous glands.” Those two sexy words simply refer to glands and hair follicles within our skin that produce oil, or sebum. These glands have receptors that respond to different hormones. When hormone levels are normal, the glands go about business as usual and help keep our skin healthy, hydrated and protected. However, a rise in androgens, like testosterone, have been shown to trigger increased sebum production, changes in skin cell activity, inflammation, and bacteria colonization of the hair follicles, all of which can lead to hormonal acne.
Dr. Green further explained that hormonal acne is “caused by changes in estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone levels,” and these fluctuations can all cause “disruptions in the skin’s oil production.” Although testosterone has been identified to have the most direct effect on triggering acne, these fluctuations are what cause the rise in testosterone—so it’s really a group effort. And unfortunately, for us, because hormonal acne is triggered by these internal fluctuations, managing these breakouts requires more than just a topical change of skin-care products. It requires more understanding of the hormones at play and why they’re being disrupted in the first place.
As previously mentioned, familiar factors like stress, birth control, and menstruation can all be a part of that “why.” However, New Jersey-based endocrinologist from Omnicare Medical Grishma Parikh pointed to another common yet uncommonly known factor that could be behind your hormonal acne: Polycystic ovary syndrome. So before moving on to the factors we all know, we wanted to bring more awareness to PCOS.
What is PCOS and how does it affect your skin?
PCOS is a metabolic disorder in which, as Dr. Parikh explains, the “ovaries behave with insulin resistance which leads to overproduction of [androgens], which gets manifested as acne, an increase in facial hair (called hirsutism), and hair loss for some.” PCOS has been found to affect 1 in 10 people with uteruses who are of “childbearing age.” And someone who unknowingly has PCOS may try various acne or laser hair-removal treatments, but Dr. Parikh explains that if the underlying hormonal issues aren’t addressed, these remedies likely won’t work.
And while the cosmetic concerns, like hormonal acne, may be reason enough for someone to seek treatment, Dr. Parikh says the metabolic risks are why the disorder needs more awareness. “Patients with PCOS might have pre-diabetes, which might eventually progress to diabetes,” she says. The hormonal imbalances can also cause irregular periods which can lead to irregular ovulation and fertility issues.
So, if you have persistent acne, facial hair, hair loss, or irregular periods, be sure to ask your doctor about PCOS. “The earlier we diagnose can have a huge impact later on in [someone’s] life,” Dr. Parikh says.
How do stress hormones affect your skin?
As if the negative impact on your mental well-being wasn’t enough, stress can cause many physical responses as well, even including the ability to make you sick. The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones (aka cortisol) as a way of compensating for the extra pressure your body is undergoing. Cortisol is most commonly known as the primary stress hormone, and it’s the main culprit behind stress-related breakouts.
“The rise in cortisol sends our sebaceous glands into overdrive resulting in an over production of sebum, [which] causes acne,” Dr. Green says.
Basically, when you’re under stress, your skin starts overproducing oil which can get clogged in your pores and cause breakouts. Fun.
Dr. Green explains that stress itself doesn’t cause acne, but because the resulting hormonal imbalance can mess with your skin, it’s important to work to identify your stressors.
How does birth control affect your skin?
According to medical journalist and OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Conti, the estrogen that’s present in many combined hormonal contraceptives work to temporarily inactivate testosterone in your body. “It’s the testosterone that’s responsible for acne, so with less of it actively functioning, you see less acne,” Dr. Conti says. “This happens with any method that has estrogen in it, but especially with oral birth control pills.” Because of the presence of acne-controlling hormones, birth control is most often known to help clear your skin, rather than make skin conditions worse. However, there are a couple situations where this isn’t the case.
First, your body may need time to get used to a new birth control prescription. If you experience breakouts upon trying out a new method, or introducing a contraceptive to your system for the first time, your body may need time to adjust and “find the right hormonal balance,” which Dr. Green says can result in initial breakouts. “It can take one to two cycles for the body to equilibrate to the birth control pill,” she says.
Another way that birth control could harm more than help your skin is if you’re using a method that contains only progestin. Dr. Conti says that this method of birth control has the opposite effect of estrogen-based contraceptives, because progestin causes more testosterone to be active in the body, which contributes to more acne.
How does menstruation affect your skin?
Dr. Green refers to menstruation as “a time of hormonal irregularity,” which makes it easy to see why your skin might have a bit of a freak-out during your time of the month.
During your period, all your hormones get a little out of whack, but estrogen is an important one to focus in on. While hormones like cortisol and testosterone can increase excess oil production, we have estrogen to thank for keeping that oil under control. However, estrogen drops during the second half of your cycle, so that balance is thrown off.0
So, how can you determine the cause of your hormonal acne?
No one ever wants to get their blood work done, but if you’re consistently struggling with hormonal acne, then this might be the route for you. Dr. Green says that testing your hormone levels can help determine which hormones might be contributing most to your breakouts. Gaining a better understanding of your hormone levels can also help your doctor advise you on which birth control prescription could work best for you and your body, if this is something you are looking to adding into your everyday lifestyle routine.
Dr. Parikh also emphasized the importance of providing your physician with a thorough history of your symptoms and being as detailed as possible. This way, the tests are more narrow and specific to your concerns. These tests, Dr. Parikh says, can look at anything from your hormone levels at different times of the day to your hormone levels during a particular timeframe of the menstrual period.
How can you balance your hormones and treat hormonal acne?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by managing stress and getting sufficient sleep can certainly help control how hormones can affect your body—but that’s not always as simple as it sounds. Luckily, there are other hormone-managing methods to rely on even when everything else feels out of your control. As mentioned before, the right kind of birth control for your body can be an effective way to regulate your hormone production and in turn, help keep your skin clear. Dr. Green also recommends Spironolactone, which works similarly to lower testosterone and clear acne—and the medication can be used in tandem with birth control.
However, Dr. Parikh strongly emphasized the importance of talking to a medical professional before trying to take matters into your own hands, especially if you’re thinking of taking over-the-counter medication geared toward hormone adjustment. Because these medications aren’t well-regulated, she says it’s far safer and more beneficial to get your hormones tested and develop a plan that’s specific to your needs. Also, make sure to consult your doctor if you’re thinking of making changes to your overall diet or wellness routine. Because while these tips are there to aid your hormonal acne journey, it’s important to find ways that will work well for your personal lifestyle.
Testosterone has taken a beating lately. We all know that it’s the hormone that makes guys, well, guys. It’s also associated with ultra-macho, boorish behavior, excessive body hair, and other unwanted things. That said, it’s still an essential hormone for men (and for women too, believe it or not), and if you don’t have enough of it, you could find yourself experiencing a variety of not-very-enjoyable side effects. So do you need more testosterone? Read on to find out.
Libido Lying Low
Not feeling as romantic as you used to? Not as interested in sex as you used to be? Could be a natural part of getting older, problems at work, depression, or troubles in your relationship with your significant other. Or it could be that you’re a little (or a lot) low on testosterone. When those T levels start to drop, your sex life is often not far behind.
Depression can be caused by a number of factors, including low T. In fact, men with inadequate testosterone levels are four times more than men with normal levels to suffer from depression.
Tired and Drained
If you wake up in the morning after what you think was a full night’s sleep and you’re still feeling exhausted, you might need a new mattress or fewer bedroom distractions (like the TV or snack foods). Or it could be that you’re running a little low on testosterone, which is involved in regulating your energy levels.
If you’re a regular exerciser and you’ve started experiencing bouts of muscle weakness or an unexplained reduction in stamina when doing your usual workout, it’s probably not related to your physical conditioning (although if you don’t exercise regularly, your lack of activity could very well be the prime suspect). It might be your diet or an early indication that you’re coming down with something. Or it could be low testosterone.
The Dreaded ED
ED, or erectile dysfunction, is something you should always take very seriously. Sometimes your inability to achieve or maintain an erection is caused by a serious condition such as heart disease or diabetes. But ED can also be caused by something a little less life-threatening: low testosterone. So while you’re talking to your medical provider about your ED, ask about getting your T levels tested.
Before you take any steps to increase testosterone levels on your own, talk with a trusted medical provider. Some of those sure-fire pills and other “cures” that you can buy on the Internet or from a late-night TV ad may actually be dangerous. So put down the remote control and back away from the computer right now.
Women have a higher predilection for asthma than men. The researchers tried to explore the role of sex hormones to explain sex differences in asthma. They, therefore, conducted a study to examine sex hormone levels and asthma in adults.
The investigators found that elevated levels of serum testosterone appeared to be significantly associated with a reduced risk for asthma in women. Findings from the study suggest that sex hormones play a key role in the widely recognized gender differences in asthma presentation among adults and obesity modifies this risk, researchers reported. The most obvious explanation for this is hormonal changes, but to our surprise, there had not been a lot of research examining the objective management of hormones in asthma,” said Celedón
In children and adolescents, the prevalence of asthma is higher among boys than girls, but adult women have higher rates of asthma compared with men, noted Juan Celedón, MD, DrPH, of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and colleagues in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Boys younger than 18 also have higher rates of asthma-related mortality than girls do, but in adulthood, asthma-related mortality is higher among women.
The cross-sectional study showed that very elevated levels of free testosterone in women (fourth quartile vs the first quartile) were associated with a lower risk of asthma (OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.39-0.80).
Among obese women, both elevated free testosterone (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.37-0.91) and elevated estradiol (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.23-0.78) were linked to lower
Our findings suggest that sex hormones play a role in known sex differences in asthma in adults. Moreover, our results suggest that obesity modifies the effects of sex hormones on asthma in adults.
A new drug undergoing human clinical trials for eliminating fat cells
RESEARCH CHEMICAL ONLY AT THIS STAGE.
- Established: 2011
- Founder: Dr. Wadih Arap and Renata Pasqualini
- Accessibility: Not yet available
- Diet Type: Diet and cancer pill
- Gender: Male and female
Adipotide is a new drug that is showing some promise in the area of obesity research. This drug was initially created as a cancer treatment designed to starve cancer cells of a blood supply so they would stop growing. The effects of Adipotide have shown that the drug actually starves fat cells of blood forcing them to die and be reabsorbed into the body. Initial tests were done on rats and then moved on to monkeys. The results from testing on rats showed a 30 percent decrease in body weight. After four weeks of daily injections of Adipotide followed by four weeks of non-treatment, 10 obese female rhesus monkeys lost an average of 11 percent of their body weight and 39 percent of fat deposits. Most of the loss was experienced during the non-treatment period.
The news isn’t all great where this drug is concerned though. Some of the main negative side effects to this drug included dehydration and small kidney lesions, which left untreated could lead to kidney failure. Once the drug was discontinued, these problems disappeared. However, as the drug progresses to human clinical trials, these side effects will need to be dealt with. Adipotide is still a long way from being available for purchase, but the initial studies do make it sound promising.
- Initial studies look promising
- Drug has been proven to reduce body weight and fat deposits in rats and monkeys
- Fat loss continues even after drug is discontinued
- Completely starves fat cells of blood supply so they die
- Drug causes dehydration
- Can produce kidney lesions
- Still in the initial testing phases
- Raises more questions than answers at this point
The initial studies on Adipotide sound very promising, but there are some definite concerns that need to be addressed before this drug is available for human consumption. The drug was found to be ineffective for monkeys who were already lean so it also raises the question of if this drug would stop working once a certain weight or body fat level is reached. It appears that Adipotide is going through the proper channels for testing. This could be a great breakthrough in obesity research, but we must all remember the importance of addressing potentially dangerous side effects.Read More
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It’s been shown that losing excess weight can help men diagnosed with low testosterone raise their levels of the essential male sex hormone. However, a new set of research performed in Chicago finds a low-fat diet probably isn’t the best choice for many men looking to lose weight and raise their testosterone. Researchers…Read More
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In the news today is PT-141 which is being called a “sex shot”. This article claims that PT-141 works on both men and women and “stimulates that part of your brain that says, ‘Hey, I’m kind of in the mood.” If you want to speak to someone about PT-141 for your or your…Read More
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Male menopause? The first thing that you wonder when you hear this term is can a man experience menopause? Well, if research studies are to be believed, women are not the only ones who go through hormonal changes during old age. Even men experience low levels of hormones as they age. However, in…Read More
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Obese men hoping to sire children—beware. Obesity is known to be associated with impaired testicular function, potentially resulting in androgen deficiency and sub-fertility. Now it is clear that fast food meals consumed by obese or overweight men have an immediate negative impact on testicular performance and testosterone production. While many facts are involved…Read More
A new article from the Gazette Review! If you are looking at hormone supplements, you may be asking yourself “Should I take HGH or testosterone?” It is important to compare these two hormones because they both have different effects on the body. These hormones are often used by athletes and by people…Read More
Women with asthma appear more likely to have lower levels of “free” (not attached to proteins) testosterone than women who do not have asthma, according to new research published online in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. In “Sex Steroid Hormones and Asthma in a Nationwide Study of…Read More
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