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    Old 03-31-2004, 04:19 PM   #1
    Sky77
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    Question Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Hello everyone,

    I just started taking Ortho-Cyclen (not Tri) 3 days ago for my acne and oily skin (first time on BCPs). However, I do believe my acne problems are a symptom of something deeper (hormonal imbalances, allergies e.t.c). My GP referred me to a psychiatrist for my recent feelings of fatigue, depression, lack of concentration e.t.c(she believes all my mental symptoms are brought on by myself). I was also prescibed BCPs for irregular light menses, oily skin, acne, and hair loss. All these symptoms just started happening 6 months ago (before 6 months I had perfect skin,and I mean perfect where people would compliment me all the time, no hairloss and was basically always happy).

    Anyhow, I am mad at my doctor for putting me on BCPs; yes, she did run a bunch of tests (not thorough) and told me all my tests came back normal. I have posted some of my thyroid test results on the thyroid boards and they are clearly NOT normal. I also have very high DHEAs and borderline high testosterone levels (which are hormones that cause acne and oily skin). I questioned my doctor about these results and she got defensive and told me I was vain.

    So, today I went to a Holistic clinic in hopes of getting better treatment. My assessment took 4 hours. They took a urine and saliva sample for hormones and mineral testing, blood testing to measure hormone levels, organ function, immunity, hematology, glucose metabolism, metabolic rate, and risks for cardiovascular illness; 2 hour fasting glucose intolerance test, food allergy test, hair analysis, and a very very long questionaire that I had to fill out.

    My test results will not be back until the end of April (1 month). I gave the holistic MD a copy of all my recent lab results and he immediately suggested that I have a problem with my hormones (particularly thyroid and my adrenal glands) and possibily allergies (fluctuating white blood cells). I told him I was taking BCPs for the skin and hair problems and he told me to stop IMMEDIATELY! his exact words was 'those are synthetic hormones and have many side effects and are very bad for you!' He than told me that once I treat the cause of all my symptoms I will no longer have these symptoms including skin problems..

    The interesting thing that I want to share with all of you is that he mentioned bio-natural hormones. I have never heard about bio-natural hormones before and was wondering if anyone has heard of them. These are hormones that are suppose to be exactly the same as the ones found in the human body so they have NO dangerous side effects (BCPs hormones differ in structure). He said I can treat many of my hormonal problems by using these hormones (natural progestorone and estrogen). He did not want to prescribe me anything until he gets my lab results from all the test I did today. When he does get the results he will try to treat what is wrong with my endocrine system via natural and conventional medicine and will attempt to balance out my female/male hormones with natural hormones tailored to my lab results....

    For women who are taking BCPs JUST for skin problems have you ever had your hormones levels checked? I'm very interested in this because although my GP did check some of the hormones she didn't do the whole panel (no estrogen, free testosterone e.t.c)... This holistic doctor is checking for everything!!!

    For those who are reading this, do you think I am doing the right thing by seeing this holistic doctor (my gut instinct is 'yes' but he is not covered by insurance and is very expensive)...I am going to stop taking my BCPs tonight and would just like to know if you think I am doing the 'Right' thing. My GP told be specifically to take them and I know she will be mad when she finds out I have stopped taking them...

     
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    Old 03-31-2004, 07:40 PM   #2
    Fur-ball
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Hi,

    You did not mention your age, which could play an important role in your responses you are going to get.


    " I have never heard about bio-natural hormones before and was wondering if anyone has heard of them. These are hormones that are suppose to be exactly the same as the ones found in the human body so they have NO dangerous side effects (BCPs hormones differ in structure)."

    Before anything, please make sure that before you take any medicine that it is FDA approved medication. FDA drugs are highly tested for defects and side effects. I am not educated about "natural" hormones and how they are produced, but I would definitely do some intense research first. How would you produced "natural" estrogen without taking it from a another human or animal? this sort of question would be on my mind

    And just a side note: if you are generally concerned about other hormones entering your body, many types of synthetic and natural hormones are injected into our chickens, pigs, and cattle. (I did a large research project on it).


    "My GP told be specifically to take them and I know she will be mad when she finds out I have stopped taking them..."

    This sentence disturbs me. No doctor should be "mad" if she found out you stopped taking birth control. It is not like you have a serious heart condition and stopped taking your medicine, you have acne and oily skin. Sounds like you need a new GP.

    And to sum everything up...... What I really want to ask you is: Do you really need to be on birth control? It sounds like you have only had acne for a short time and that you have not mentioned exercising other option for acne control. Possibly the best option for you is some good cleansers and to wear condoms if you are sexually active. It sounds like you are very concerned about hormones and it does not seem that you need them in the first place. If you are concerned about your thyroid or depression, Birth control pills (natural or synthetic) is not going to solve those problems.

    JMO

    Last edited by Fur-ball; 03-31-2004 at 07:40 PM.

     
    Old 03-31-2004, 08:36 PM   #3
    Sky77
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Furball,

    I am 26 yrs old, been with my current bf for 8 years and was never on birthcontrol. I'm not quite sure BCPs work but I would like to take them for birth control purposes, if it helps with the skin it would be a bonus! I am just worried about the long time side effects that's why I would like to know some of the experiences or opinions of people who have been taking BCPs... I am worried that BCPs might worsen my current symptoms or are just covering up some other health problems... if there are no long term side effects to BCPs I would love to take them...

    I can't really use a good cleanser or something strong like BP on my skin. I have tried, I have hyper-reactive skin (I am almost allergic to everything). I can't even use a moisturizing lotion with preservatives or perfume. I would like to get the skin under control ASAP because I am planning on getting married next year and would like to look my best...

    Fur-bull: do you take BCPs? if so, what do you think about them personally?

    thanks..

     
    Old 04-01-2004, 08:01 AM   #4
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Skye,
    Yes, without a doubt you did the right thing! Your symptoms fatigue, hair loss, acne, and your age indicate that your body may have shifted into a hormonal imbalance of some sort. This could be temporary except that you said your menses have become lighter indicating that they may stop. While BC is good, it doesn't work for more complicated cases, such as what you may have. Furthemore, because you are feeling depressed (regardless of reason), BC may worsen this overtime, so you definately want the right dx.

    Now, more and more women are being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) also known as Syndrome X (Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Disorder), Syndrome O, and also Stein-Leventhal Syndrome. This is characterized by a myriad of symptoms, such as hair loss, hirstuism, wieght gain, irregular - no menses, cystic ovaries, and acne. While you don't have to have ALL of these symptoms (I don't), I don't recall fatigue being one of them.

    Another possibility is that you have Non-Classical Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (NCCAH) or Late-Onset Congential Adrenal Hyperplasia (LOCAH). They are both the same disorder and they differ from Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) in the fact that they occur later in adulthood (early 20s or so forth). Now, this can produce a variety of hormonal symptoms, but the big one would be fatigue. This is due to your body's inability to produce cortisol effectively. As a result, your body keeps trying to and ends up only further increasing your other hormones in this attempt (they all increase naturally together). Due to the similarity of symptoms and most of the hormone levels, it can be misdiagnosed as PCOS.

    So, this holistic doctor is by far testing you for most of the above problems. The Glucose Tolerance Test will help determine whether you might have Diabetes Type I, Diabetes Type II, or it's precursor Insulin Resistance. That test will also determine if you have PCOS. The ACTH Stimulation Test will help show which liver producied enzymes you might be defficient in that's preventing you from producing Cortisol, if that's what your problem is (check and see if he tested you for that). There's a bunch of others tests that could be run such as doing 24 hour Urine collection to see how much protein, sugar, and cortisol you are excreting.

    There's also a variety of other posssibilities, such as maybe you are either Hyperthyroid or Hypothyroid based on your abnormal thyroid tests (high or low?). I'm not the person to ask about that, but I'm certain one of those leads to fatigue, acne, and hair loss. You could also have Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenacorticism) which can lead to Chronic Fatigue, but I don't think it is associated with High testosterone. You could also have Hashimotos's Thyroiditis and adrenal fatigue combined. Yet, because of your symptoms you could have PCOS or NCCAH and an Abnormal Thyroid, the combinations vary so it's important to see a doctor, preferably a specialist, in order to get the right dx. While some women are "lucky" enough to have several disorders, hopefully yours can be attributed to only one ;-) However, I hope I've given you enough to research on so that when you go back and know more of the right kinds of questions to ask. Besides doctors (should) like for you to be well informed. Also, definately, if you can find out your family's health/horomonal history that might also help if these tests don't lead to the determining factor.

    Oh and of course, anything that's upsetting and has been a sudden change could definately lead to feeling depressed and fatigued, etc. So her sending you to a psychiatrist was "nice" of her, but I bet that if these are symptoms of your hormonal disorder, they will go away the moment you are dx and get started on treating you. =)

    Take care and definately update us on your progress!

    Last edited by SweetJade1; 04-01-2004 at 08:42 AM.

     
    Old 04-01-2004, 08:07 AM   #5
    Hamer
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    I have had acne for many years and my doctor put my on BCPs a few years ago. I am 21 married female by the way. The hormones in birth control pills are very unatural and even though it did help my skin to some degree, I had to stop taking them. I was very depressed when I was on them. My doctor switched me to a different kind 4 times and I even tried the patch, but it was always the same thing. This all happened over the course of about 2 years. There aren't any lasting side effects of the pill, but it did take me about a year to get my regular periods back after I stopped taking them. I think if I were you I would try the natural way first, even though I have never in my life heard about natural hormones and I have even researched it, but who knows. If that doesn't work, then you might as well take the BCPs for birth control purposes. A lot of women take the pill for many years and don't have any problems at all. You might want to see a dermatologist as well because he/she might have some better options for you to clear your face.

     
    Old 04-01-2004, 08:10 AM   #6
    Fur-ball
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    I am on Diane 35 for the last 2 years and have really seen an improvement in my acne (and I dont do anything special other than take BC). I have had no ill side effects or problems. I do believe that taking hormones in the long run may have an ill effect and plan on quitting once I have had more planned children (want to space them at least 2 years apart).

    There is bonus to Birth Control in the year 2000, compared to when our mother's were offered it, is that the dose of hormones is MUCH lower. Diane 35 contains 2 sex hormones, each tablet containing 2 mg cyproterone and .025 mg of ethinyl estradoil. That (mg) is milli grams which is 10^-3 grams. (just if you are not quite sure of math unit conversions) which is quite small if you think that a kilo gram is 10^3. Which in my opinion, is quite small.

    For myself also, the need to be on oral contraceptive is quite important. I swear if I wash my hands in the same sink as him, I will get me pregnant.. LOL j/k.

    Anyways, my advice to you is do some online research yourself and then decide what is best for yourself. I know that acne is a pain in the butt and it can be hard to manage with sensitve skin (I know I have very sensitive skin also). I wish you luck,

    Fur-ball

     
    Old 04-01-2004, 11:01 AM   #7
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    I have been on Ortho-Tricyclen for the past 4 or 5 years and it is the only thing that has helped my acne.

     
    Old 04-01-2004, 01:06 PM   #8
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    When I was 25 or 26 I started getting patches of acne on my face where I had none before, my visit to the dermatologist did not do much to help me (topical antibiotics and the like) but my Gyn switched my pills from Lovral to Orth-tricyclen. Within just a few months my skin was as clear as before.

    However, when I hit 29 I started to react badly each month when I went on the sugar pills. Essentially, I was emotionaly unstable for the five days of my period (prior to this I never had much in the way of PMS EVER). Tried serafem (think low dose of prozac) for it, but had every ill side effect you can think of. I came off the pill completely, and while the trouble lessened, it still was noticable.

    I was switched to Ovicon, as this type of pill gives me morning sickness when I start a new pack (after my period), it was recommened by two doctors that I take it straight thru for six months, no sugar pills and thereby suppress my period completely. I have to say that this works amazingly for me and I love it!

    However, at almost 32 the acne is back. . . so next week I start on pill similar to the ortho-tricyclen that is not cyclic (same pills all month) and will use that straight thru as well. Its supposed to have the same effect on the skin as the Ortho. . . (I am also doing Tazorac and a topical antibiotic at this time.)

    We'll see.

    Both of my doctors, however, have run many blood tests and supposedly there isnt anything wrong with me. And both assure me that the Pills is not the monster some proport it to be.

    Hope any of that babble helps ;-)

     
    Old 04-01-2004, 04:40 PM   #9
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Thankyou everyone for posting, much appreciated. I decided to continue taking the BCPs for this month (I heard from a friend that you should finish a cycle because you will bleed when you stop). I have not had any side effects from the pills besides being a little sleepy... acne is the same, oiliness is the same, no headaches, nothing...

    Sweetjade: Your post was very informative and it helped me immensely. I believe the holistic MD did test my ACTH (it's a blood test right?). I'm not quite sure what other stuff he tested me for but I know it was alot. I have been reading up all the disorders you listed and boy are they scary!!

    Hamer: I am seeing a derm but she did not prescribe anything cause she wanted to see how I do on BCPs... that's why I am a little reluctant to stop and also because I am vain heehee

    Furball: I'm glad you are doing well on Diane35. I was going to try that, but my GP wanted me to try OrthCyclen first... Daine is suppose to be stronger??? In case you are looking for a moisturizing lotion; I have found a great one 'Toleriane soothing protective light facial fluid by La Roche Posay' (it does contain oil but it has not aggravated my pimples). It is Fragance and preservative free.

    Daisy: thanks for your imput.. have you ever tried stopping BCPs? any side effects going off?

    Verylongday: I believe you and me might be going on the same pill: Orthocyclen.. it has exactly the same hormones as Ortho-Tricyclen but the hormones are consistant throughout the cycle...

    Are any of you ever worried what will happen when you stop taking BCPs? I've read on the board that acne usually becomes worse!!! does that mean we have to be on BCPs for life??? what happens when we want children. For me, I'm not quite sure if I want kids but would like to have the option to have healthy ones... Sorry for all the blabbing, but I'm just worried in the long run.. However, I must admit, sex without a condom or pregnancy worries would be good and beautiful skin and hair would be a blessing...

    take care all of you,

     
    Old 04-01-2004, 04:43 PM   #10
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Oh, should I be expecting an initial breakout??? every morning I wake up expecting huge pimples.. but only have been getting small ones like always... did any of you experience breakouts? if you did, was it during the first month? when should I expect to see improvements? 3rd month??? heehee, more questions for you all

     
    Old 04-01-2004, 04:50 PM   #11
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Sweetjade,

    I have been reading up a lot of your old posts and I know you have done a lot of research in regards to diets and illnesses. My question for you is: do you think it is ok to go on BCPs and hopefully have your skin clear up while treating the underlying cause and then slowly going off BCPs? My biggest concern is whether BCPs will make anything worse... I know you were on BCPs before spiro and now you are just on spiro and a diet plan and have clear skin ..if you don't mind me asking, when you went off BCPs did you have any ill side effects or was it a pretty smooth transition?

     
    Old 04-01-2004, 08:13 PM   #12
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Sky77
    did any of you experience breakouts? if you did, was it during the first month? when should I expect to see improvements? 3rd month???
    Hello Sky -

    I am on Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. I just started in January and am finishing up my 3rd month....I start my 4th pill pack on Sunday. Right now, my skin is doing very well! I have had no new pimples develop for almost a week!

    Something in my regime is working! I don't know if it is the OTC Lo, Cetaphil, or the fact that I have been taking Cephalexin (antibiotic) for a sinus infection I had last week! Hopefully it is a combination!

    About the initial breakout question you had, my 1st month was not bad...I had no problems. It was my 2nd month that was a NIGHTMARE!! I don't want to scare you because everyone is different, but I developed horrible cystic acne along my chin and jawline that took about 2 weeks to go away. I still have keloid scars from 3 of them and have been applying Vitamin A and 100% Aloe Vera Gel to help smooth them down!

    I am just happy my skin is staying clear...hopefully it will continue! I would much rather have scars than zits because scars usually are not very visible under makeup!

    Anyways, good luck with your pill and health!

     
    Old 04-02-2004, 07:50 AM   #13
    SweetJade1
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Sky,
    Hey there, sorry if I scared ya. I suppose for someone that's never had a problem to suddenly have one it might seem scary, but for some of us, we've been dealing with obvious signs for years, if not decades. So for us, getting a dx was the best thing ever =)

    Actually, that's why I think you are doing a really smart thing. I took BC too, but it improved my skin by only 50% and didn't help with my hirsuitism or menstrual cramps. The reason BC is a good choice is because it does contain a synthetic form of estrogen and progesterone. Diane-35 contains a progesterone (cyproterone acetate), that acts more like an DHT inhibitor. Otherwise, what's going to get your skin possibly clear is the estrogen supplied in the pill. The estrogen will act as an anti-androgen and will increase your ability to bind circulating androgens (free testosterone) in your blood. So after 3 months on Tri-levlen, I had a 50% decrease of Free Testosterone and never improved beyond that so I added in the Spiro.

    As far as I know, there is no natural birth control pills. You can use certain herbs to prevent you from getting pregnant (internally or as a spermicide), but they won't have the same possibility of giving you clear skin. There's a problem with using natural progesterone and natural estrogens it doesn't remain stable apparently. Yasmin would be the closest synthetic progesterone containg BC that is closest to that from Wild Yam extract. There's also another form of progesterone that's micronized and is supposed to be natural, but it won't prevent you from getting pregnant. Of course there are plenty of phytoestrogenic plants out there that could help your with your skin. Studies have found that they can boost your estrogen levels, act like estrogens, or will help bind excess estrogens. So I'm guessing he might put you on something like that, but your tests results will be the deciding factor as to what type of treatment he decides to go with.

    You can absolutely take BC and do that natural route at the same time. There's herbs that don't conflict with the BC and there's also diet that will help to reduce your overall production of steriod hormones. If you reduce your overall production, that's less DHT and other androgens that you need to prevent from being active in your system. For some diet is enough and for others they choose to heal their liver in order to balance their hormones too. The enzymes the liver produces are responsible for converting androgens into estrogen. They are responsible for eliminating excess hormones. They are responsible for the elimination of cholesterol. They are responsible for converting Vitamin A into 13-cis-retinoic acid (accutane). They are also responsible for the production of cortisol. So it's possible that a hormone balancing diet will improve your ability to produce cortisol again, if that's impaired. The liver helps metabolize drugs, maintain sugar levels, detoxift, etc. so its very important to work on healing it. Hopefully, your doctor is going to be giving you some herbs that will help you with this =) I'm currently attempting to do this myself with some tinctures and you might want to check out some of the threads that are titled Cleansing, Detoxing or something to that effect.

    HTH & Take care =)

    Last edited by SweetJade1; 04-02-2004 at 07:56 AM.

     
    Old 04-02-2004, 08:16 AM   #14
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... are we doing the right thing???

    Sky & Laura,

    I didn't experience an intial or secondary breakout on Tri-Levlen. Some BC pills have more snythetic progesterone (progestins) than others. It could be that its synthetic, or it could be the fact that progesterone has androgenic properties. So the more you add, the more androgen you could be adding to your system if you don't need extra progesterone.

    Progesterone will usually convert into androgens, which is why some females have broken out when they've added more progesterone or progesterone supplements (Vitex or natural progesterone cream) to their system.

    As I mentioned in the other post, Androgens (testosterone) will convert into Estrogens. Now, some men have found that after sex they breakout horribly. My thought is that maybe it's because their pathway to converting androgens into estrogen is a bit faulty. This could also a be a factor for us women or it could be that the extra testosterone overrides the benefits (soft, smooth, clear skin) that even an normal amount of estrogen provides us.

    Oh and when I stopped the BC, I was happy. It was feeling a little depressed, probably due to the acne behaving worse, but I didn't have any problems. My periods continued on normally, but I've always had regular periods. Of course you will eventually (1 - 3 months) begin to breakout upon stopping and for some it may be worse just because overtime your hormonal imbalance will worsen if left uncorrected. I also had to stop taking the BC in order to normalize my blood so that the doctor could have a baseline. So if you are going to be getting more tests, its best to not be on the BC pill or any drug that will alter your hormones. However if he's already tested you specifically for your steroid hormones (androgen, estrogen, progesterone) than it might be OK. The rest of your tests will be skewed in terms of your androgens and possibly your FSH & LH (indicators of PCOS), but they should come up normal (your kind of normal..lol) for other problems such as blood sugar, insulin, vitamin deficiencies, etc.

    Oh yeah the ACTH Stimulation Test is something that you must do early in the morning and it takes about 2 hours to do. That's what's going to show if you have an enzyme deficiency in producing cortisol. If things are normal you will produce cortisol, if they are not then there will be a very high increase in one of the precursors needed to produce cortisol. All they do is take a baseline, then inject you with ACTH. They wait 30 min and take another blood sample. Then they wait 30 more min (1 hour total) and take the second sample. It's easy ;-)

    Take care

     
    Old 04-02-2004, 09:34 PM   #15
    solitear
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    Re: Women taking BCPs for acne... LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

    If you know your thyroid levels are abnormal (even slightly) and your doctor doesn't want to even acknowledge this, definitely get another doctor or atleast a second opinion.

    From being on these boards I can say that Birth control seemed to help alot of people, it depends on the person, you have to pay attention to the reaction your body gives from being on the pill.

    I personally I used Ortho-tri cyclen and then Estrostep primarily for birth control but also for acne. I was on them for about 5 months and I can honestly say I saw NO improvement in breakouts on them. I don't think my acne got worse but it certainly didn't improve. Also, I had alot of problems on them, extreme nausea (to where I threw up), generally feeling crappy, emotional and my breasts were so swollen and painful they thought I had cysts, I had to get ultrasounds, it was awful. Then when I got off of them, I developed terrible migraine headaches and my hair started shedding like crazy! The migraines subsides after a few months but my hair still sheds and it's been 6 mos.

    But I think everyone is different. Listen to what your body tells you. Obviously from the strong side effects I had before and after the pill my body was telling me this isn't for me. I have friends who had the same problems, but I also have friends who swear by the pill, and taking it is like taking water, no side effects or anything...........

     
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