Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's a female thing

...so of you're a male you can always stop reading here.

A little over a year ago I decided to try going off of birth control. Although I dropped 20 pounds, became happier, less hungry, and saved money I also experienced some moderately severe cystic acne on my lower face. I suffered from acne in high school but never had cysts like I did last year. Needless to say, I wasn't interested in looking like a package of cottage cheese so I went to a dermatologist for suggestions. Unfortunately she had only 2 options: birth control or Accutane. Well make that 1 option; I sucked it up and went on Accutane back in high school and even though it dried everything up, made my hair fall out, and destroyed my innards, it cleared up my face to the point of looking and feeling like a baby's behind. Because of that though, I wasn't given the option of going on it again (for further info see FDA website). Which leaves me with birth control. Sigh.

The dermatologist offered to start me on a newer (3rd generation) birth control by the name of Yaz. Yaz is one of the few birth control pills out there that is prescribed for acne. The downfall is that it contains a diuretic which can cause high potassium (yet help prevent bloating ie weight gain). I figured I'd give it a try even though insurance really doesn't like paying for it. Within a few months my acne had cleared right up, but on the flip side I ended up being part of the 10% of people that develop high potassium (google hyperkalemia) and got to enjoy constant muscle twitches and leg cramps. But the acne was gone so I stayed on it.

Skip to a year later...okay yesterday. I finally gave in and went off the Yaz...and off bc pills in general. One reason, and it's a good one, is that I'm getting close to 30 and as many people may or may not know, the older you get the more risks you incur while taking oral contraceptives. I have now worked with enough stroke, heart attack, and patients with clots to know that I am not interested in becoming part of that population. I realize that bc pills are not the only risk factors for the above issues but they definitely play a part. I was also tired of having twitchy legs everytime I wanted to enjoy a baked potato...and my God I missed peanut butter and banana sandwiches. On the down side, I'm afraid the cystic acne is going to come back full force.

So- I've been doing some reading (ie peer reviewed research articles b/c let's be honest, Wikipedia isn't perfect) and have found research that links several foods to acne (mainly due to toxins or food allergies). Since your skin is an organ and "bad" things exit your body partially through the skin, it does make sense that toxins or allergens could cause skin problems even if they were originally digested. That being said, I am about to embark on a diet of absolutely no dairy, no caffeine, limited alcohol (come on now- I need my champagne), and limited refined foods (good bye white bread and pasta) in addition to lots of yummy water. It may help, it may not. If not I'll be back to twitchy legs by the end of the year. At the very least I would have adapted a healthier eating lifestyle for at least a little while.

For anyone interested, I'll let you know how that works out. For those that have never had acne and could care less, well, go get fat or something. :-)

2 comments:

  1. WOW! You're giving up a lot- I'm pullin' for ya!
    Good luck. I don't have that kind of willpower. Birth control does suck. Luckily I have an IUD (since I've had a child) and that's been wonderful.
    Keep us up-to-date on your progress!!

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  2. You are very brave and I wish you luck!
    I've never used birth control. I am OLD. And I'm fat. And I still have acne.
    Some things just aren't fair. :)

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