When you’re feeling rough and tired from being ill (which for me is pretty much all the time), the last thing you might think about is making sure you wash your face or use that dreamy skincare product before you crash into bed. But skincare is important, and something that I feel is just a little bit more important for those of us who suffer with gynaecology problems.
It may be pretty obvious, but for those of you reading this who are not from the gynaecology disorder community, gynaecology problems often come with hormone problems like imbalances or treatments that are hormone-focussed. This means our hormones may not always be on a consistent level or be fluctuating month-on-month leading to even more symptoms than we originally asked for.
For women, we have two main hormones – oestrogen and progesterone. We do also have some androgen hormones in our body. Each one of these hormones play a different role in our bodies;
Oestrogen: aids in the development of breasts, widening the hips and distributing female fat. It also has a role in breast feeding by preparing the breasts for lactation. Oestrogen also helps mature the vagina and uterus, and is involved in ovulation – the surge of oestrogen thickens lining of the endometrium in preparation for a baby, and also triggers the release of an egg from an ovary.
Progesterone: this hormone interacts with oestrogen and often works in conjunction with it, particularly with the fertilisation process and preparing the womb for implantation. Progestrone levels rise to facilitate this during our cycle, and fall dramatically when pregnancy has not occurred, causing our monthly bleed – a period. It also plays a role in skin health such as skin thickness, elasticity and increased collagen content (less wrinkles!). Its other functions include breast development and sexual function.
Androgen: these are steroid hormones that are of higher content in males, but us females do have a small number of them. In their correct levels, they produce no side effects and typically produce uterine contractions during labour or a period. However, if their numbers increase (often due to pre-existing conditions – PCOS, adrenal problems – but can be due to hormonal imbalance or contraceptive pills), they produce unwanted side effects such as acne, oily skin and increased body hair.
Now that we’ve learnt about our hormones, we can see how they interact and cause havoc with our skin. During our monthly cycle when these hormones rise and fall, we may find we get breakouts (typically around he chin or jawline) in a set pattern or can even predict when the occur. After menstruating, our oestrogen levels start to rise in preparation for ovulation, and then progesterone levels rise and dramatically fall off ready for our monthly bleed. It’s unclear where androgens specifically fit into our cycle.
When you’re looking at spots or skin problems, you’ll often find that gynaecology problems such as Endometriosis or PCOS brings two main things – oily skin and spots. Oily skin and spots are often the culprit of those pesky androgens and progesterone, so it comes as no surprise that us women are often prescribed birth control/hormonal treatments to keep them under bay. But there are plenty of things you can do to help.
These are my “Golden Skincare Rules”!
- No popping, picking or squeezing! I know it can be tempting bu they will heal soooo much better on their own, and you can always cover them up
- Don’t over-treat. Using things like tea tree oil or salicylic acid repeatedly throughout the day will not only dry your skin out but might leave it looking red and irritated. Use things like that as per the instructions
- Avoid touching your face throughout the day. Our hands touch all sorts of things (although hopefully you wash them frequently!) and can pick up a lot of grime, dirt and bugs. Imagine all those being transferred to your skin? Yuck!
- Clean your mobile phone. We use it all the time – even on the loo – so its no doubt that it will be covered in many disgusting things, so why would we want it transferred to our face when we’re making calls?
- Keep your hair away from your face, especially if it’s a bit greasy. There is no shame in not washing your hair everyday, but you want to make sure any greasier strands are kept away from your skin to prevent the oils going on your skin.
- Drink plenty of water as this will keep your skin nice and plump and hydrated, but also flush out any toxins. I remember one summer in secondary school that I really focused on my water intake during the summer, and my skin drastically improved (I had awful teenage acne!)
- Manage stress levels, as being stressed affects our hormones and releases more chemicals into the bed that make make your skin appear washed out, oily and prone to breakouts
- Cover up carefully. If you want to cover up your spots or imperfections, make sure you are using a) the right product for your skin and b) something that doesn’t clog pores and lead to more spots.
- Finally, don’t be embarrassed or avoid going out. Your spots or other skin imperfections do NOT define who you are, and as my husband always tells me, they are never half as bad or as noticeable as they are to you. No one should make you feel bad about it either.
Do you have any skin tips you swear by? Let me know! And let me know if you’ve tried out any of mine.