Not long ago I blogged on the subject of “Zapping Zits” which initiated a fair amount of conversation both on Facebook and between Chloe (my research friend) and me. In talking about our shared affliction and our cures we discovered that we both take quite high doses of bio-identical progesterone (not progestin) for about 16 days per month. Chloe had noticed that her outbreaks of spots were occurring pretty regularly on the days she took progesterone. That made me think about the timing of my issues and I realized that I was getting “zee zits” at that time as well. At the risk of reader boredom I decided to do a little research in regard to bio-identical progesterone and your skin to see if we were on to something.
First some basic information. What does progesterone do in a woman’s body? Progesterone (essentially translating to “pro” gestational state) is essential for preparing and maintaining the uterine lining for a successful pregnancy. If fertilization does not occur and the egg does not implant, progesterone levels begin to fall, assuming a “regular” cycle, menstrual flow begins at day 28. Progesterone is made in the adrenal glands and has qualities of both androgens and estrogen. In the best scenario, natural progesterone competes with androgens, particularly when estrogen levels drop at ovulation, helping prevent androgens from exerting their effects upon the skin.
Why should a female worry about taking progesterone at all, especially if it is going to mar your face and cause you irritation every month? There are a variety of very good reasons. Progesterone in the body has multiple functions:
- Prepare the endometrium for implantation of the fertilized ovum
- Insure survival of the fetus in the uterus
- Prevent water retention
- Help use fat for energy at the cellular level
- Serve as a natural anti-depressant
- Create a calming effect on the body
- Help eliminate sleep disorders
- Help keep insulin release in check and maintain even blood sugar levels
- Prevent overgrowth of the endometrium
- Prevent breast tissue overgrowth
- Maintain sex drive
- Maintain normal blood clotting parameters
- Protect against fibrocystic breasts
Now that the basics of progesterone have been covered we can set about to answer the question: Why do some women who take progesterone have trouble with spots and some don’t? There appear to be several possibilities.
Some researchers pointed out that weak eliminative organs – such as the liver, kidneys and the intestines can cause skin problems like acne. The skin being an eliminative organ, if the liver is not performing at its peak, and if the kidneys and intestines aren’t either, then a lot of the elimination will have to take place through the skin …and when that happens, acne, rashes, and other skin conditions appear. So if your liver isn’t at its best you will eliminate toxins through your skin.
If you think your low functioning liver is exacerbating your hormonal skin issues cleansing your eliminative organs is recommended. Jon Barron provides an entire pharmacopia for challenged livers in his kit of organ cleanses (I like Jon Barron’s approach and the quality of his products although I have never tried this particular kit). You could also take herbs like milk thistle and dandelion root on a daily basis to support your liver. If you have actual acne, supporting and cleansing your liver may be called for especially if you regularly take products like Advil and Tylenol or drink soda and alcohol daily.
If a clogged liver plus progesterone has the possible effect of causing acne and rashes, what if what you are experiencing is just one or two spots that recur monthly? That is not acne, it is more likely a simple pimple, zit, spot, whatever name you choose. As I stated previously, some experts say that bio-identical progesterone can have an androgenic effect on a woman’s body and cause an over-secretion of oil. Researchers also point out that progesterone naturally causes some fluid retention which may cause the pores to swell and close up and voila! You have zee zit.
I also found several articles from a more holistic approach stating that bio-identical progesterone causes a kind of cleansing within the body as it is closely associated with a woman’s menses. This cleansing causes toxins to escape via the body’s largest organ, the skin. While for some women progesterone causes a zit or two some women report that spots will clear up when they apply natural progesterone cream to the inflamed area.
In the end I conclude that it is entirely possible that when a person is suffering from the occasional spot on their mug it could very well be due to their fluctuating progesterone levels. I suggest taking a holistic approach to the problem. Clean up your diet. Keep your skin free of petroleum products and unnecessary chemicals. Try some of the natural remedies suggested in “Zapping Zits“.
This is a certainty: maintaining optimal progesterone levels is essential. When next the dreaded spot erupts you can rest easy knowing that when the new moon appears and progesterone levels decrease your zits may be zapped naturally.
Until next week,