Estrogen is a confusing hormone for acne sufferers because both low and high levels of estrogen can lead to deep, cystic acne on your skin. Your estrogen should always be in balance, not too high and not too low, much like the thyroid hormones. Estrogen is an extremely important hormone for women, and one of its effects is to decrease oil production on your skin i.e. the opposite of testosterone. It balances out testosterone and its effects, so if you have low estrogen, your testosterone may be at normal levels and still cause acne because it’s not being balanced out.
Some birth control pills have synthetic estrogens in them and are given by doctors to prevent acne in patients. So far, estrogen sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Now, let me introduce you to the term, estrogen dominance. You’ll find this all over the internet, and it can be very confusing. How can estrogen be bad? Some people think that estrogen dominance is a farce, but I believe that if people can break out from eating too many phytoestrogens, like in the case of flax seed-related breakouts, then it’s true that estrogen is not always good for acne.
In women, estrogen is balanced by progesterone. Progesterone and acne have a direct relationship too. If you have low levels of progesterone, i.e. not enough to balance the estrogen, the excess estrogen can be dangerous for a woman. This has been a common occurrence lately as we are constantly surrounded by sources of xenoestrogens. These are chemicals that mimic estrogen and bind to estrogen receptors in our body, resulting in disruption of our endocrine system and its balance. They can disrupt hormonal balance in men who are over-exposed to them as well.
Xenoestrogens are present in plastics, birth control, pesticides, and even our makeup or nail polish. You can look on the internet for detailed information on the various sources of xenoestrogens. You can also have estrogen dominance if your liver doesn’t metabolize it fast enough, or if you have low progesterone due to genetics, diet, lifestyle, stress, etc. A low fiber in your diet can lead to estrogens being reabsorbed instead of being removed from the body. Obesity can cause all types of hormonal imbalances as well; some doctors suggest losing a few pounds for bringing that balance back. Taking birth control is also a major cause.
There are various effects of estrogen dominance, and these include:
- Weight gain, fogginess, bad temper
- Tender breasts
- Fibroids in the breasts/uterus
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain around your belly
- Breast Cancer
- Decreased libido
Here’s how you can regain the balance between progesterone and estrogen in your body:
- Bioidentical progesterone
- Herbs like Wild Yam or Myomin
- Liver supplements
- Eat more fiber; carrots specifically can help bind to excess estrogen
- Reduce animal proteins; make sure the animal produce you are eating is pasteurized and grass-fed
- Corn, avocados, pineapple and many other foods have an anti-estrogenic effect on the body
- Sweet potato, thyme, and oregano are all examples of foods that naturally stimulate the production of progesterone in the body
- Cruciferous vegetables ( Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Kale, etc.) contain DIM (diinodylmethane), which is a compound that actively promotes the breakdown of estrogen to its metabolites
- Reduce xeno-estrogens in your surrounding environment as much as possible
- Take a DIM supplement; there are many reports of such a supplement reducing severe acne in certain people
- Reduce/eliminate sources of phytoestrogens in your diet such as soy, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc.
- Increased intake of zinc (can lead to rising in testosterone, be careful!)
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