My Period is a Multi-Dimensional Gal
Period week is never fun, and even less so because it triggers my hormonal acne.
I first got my period at the age of 12. Around that time, I began to get little breakouts here and there. At first, it was pretty easy to control, but it worsened after a stint with Proactiv. It’s been a lot of trial and error with only temporary success since then.
Of all the prescribed and over the counter treatments I’ve tried, the only thing I haven’t put to the test is Accutane because my mom couldn’t provide insurance for us, and we were under government issued aid. Unfortunately, Accutane isn’t covered by public health programs, and it’s expensive since it requires monthly bloodwork to make sure there aren’t any problems caused by the strong medication. Now at the age of 24, acne has become an inescapable part of my life.
Since then, I’ve associated my period with my acne. Let me just say, my hormone levels are wack, especially during the week before my period. During that week, my face is overtaken by cysts and whiteheads. I hardly ever get the luxury of feeling soft skin sans bumps. By the time my skin has recovered from the previous breakout, my next cycle is right around the corner. For that reason, foundation has become my very expensive best friend. I worry about what others think of me when they see the scars. Acne has taken a toll on my self-esteem, and it’s hard to feel that self-love when the people saying “love your bare skin” have perfect, clear skin.
As I got older, I looked for other remedies since the topical creams weren’t working anymore and I didn’t want to depend on spironolactone – a cardiovascular drug that has surprising success when it comes to managing acne. I came across articles that explained something I had never heard of, probably because I had never gone to a dermatologist since we couldn’t afford it (my pediatrician was actually the one who prescribed me the acne medications that she could, but it was limited). All acne is linked to hormones, but it’s hormonal acne that doesn’t easily respond to topical creams. The cysts associated with this type of acne are too deep for the reach of topical creams. It was far from finding a cure, but I felt like I’d found an answer to a question I didn’t know I had.
The relief of knowing that I didn’t suffer alone was immense. Nothing is worse than people giving you suggestions for your skincare routine. I cannot simply wash my face with a bar of soap and, poof, the acne is gone. Discovering hormonal acne validated my struggle.
I grew up thinking my skin was a wreck because I just didn’t wash my face well enough. I might’ve come to a stage of acceptance much earlier had I been given the proper information. There are a lot of myths surrounding acne and I remember being pointed to as an example of why you shouldn’t eat pizza or pick your face or whatever other reason. Not only did it suck having acne in high school, but my mom’s friends are savages so family parties weren’t any easier.
So how did I finally control my acne? Birth control. First things first, my parents are strong Catholics, so it was never even a possibility growing up and, even as I got older, I was worried about going on birth control because of the myths surrounding it. But then I got my first ovarian cyst and when it burst, that s*** HURT. I had never experienced anything like that before. I immediately researched everything there is to know about cysts, and I learned that birth control is a good preventative method, which pushed me to consider it.
I go a little over the top when it comes to monitoring things I put in my body, especially things that will wreck my hormones and my skin. I learned about the different hormone levels, the various types of birth control methods, combination pills versus mini pills and many other little facts because I knew next to nothing about birth control. I finally came to the decision that I wanted to try Ortho Tri Cyclen because the hormone levels stay the same throughout the pack and won’t aggravate acne. I literally went into my gynecologist’s office, told her I wanted to start birth control and that I wanted this one specifically in under five minutes. This is only a quick fix for me, and I hope to find alternative treatments, since I don’t want to depend on the pill for too long.
Acne isn’t the only thing I’ve struggled when it comes to my period. My flow was pretty heavy and I was even prescribed iron pills due to the blood loss. My periods were somewhat regular, but ever since the cyst my periods become irregular. I began to skip every other month and was anxious because I didn’t know when to expect it. I have also experienced every symptom under the moon: back aches, bloating, moodiness and even lactose intolerance at one point. It’s been a wild ride with my periods, y’all. But birth control has really helped with both my periods and acne. I can’t remember the last time I leaked through or had horrible cramps that woke me up in the middle of the night. And overall, it’s really helped with my acne. I’m finally in a place in my life where I’m comfortable in my own skin and honestly, I never thought I’d get here.Loading Likes...