Last year I wrote a blog about my 'adult-acne' off the back of a post on my instagram account where I spoke about taking the leap to come off the pill and learning to deal with the changes in my body, my menstrual cycle and most embarrassingly (for me anyways) my skin.
I originally went on the pill when I was 16 years old and it helped my teenage acne clear up straight away what I didn't know, or even think about, was the fact that for the next 10.5 years I would be putting fake hormones into my system meaning that my body began to lose it's ability to regulate itself.
Interestingly, a lot of women believe that they put on weight when they went on the pill, I'm sure that does happen, however I definitely believe I was skinnier. Part of this is because when my period would begin it was no longer debilitating meaning that for at least 24-48 hours I would be bed ridden, I also didn't crave things like chocolate, or sugar for the magnesium because I wouldn't need it to deal with cramps or any of those other really fun things that come along with a REAL period. In addition to that I no longer had fluctuating energy, I was on a pretty even par and I guess I was younger... meaning that my metabolism was probably a little quicker than it is at now at 27.
Understandably, my body freaked out when I stopped taking these artificial hormones and was all like "what the hell, I need to do this myself now??!!" so for the first 12+ months of being off the pill I would gain a dress size in weight whenever I ovulated and whenever I got my period, I would be stuck in bed for at least one day when I first got my period with cramps so bad it would go all the way down the front of my legs to my feet hitting me like a tonne bricks so that not even pain killers (yup I succumbed) would make a difference. My skin would break out twice a month, along with the change of my hormones and it would only just be recovery before the next bought. My moods were crazy, I would find that around 3 days before my period was due to come I would all of a sudden become teary at EVERYTHING, if something tipped me over the edge I would dangle there for hours finding it really hard not to just cry, and cry, and cry. You may think I'm overreacting, but ask my partner, my friends, my parents who all had to deal with the hormonal-emotional rollercoaster that was me. And you know what, I'm sure you're not alone.
One of the best things that I did when coming off the pill was downloading a period tracker, I found a free one that allowed me to track the symptoms I was having (acne, bloating, emotions etc), as well as predict when my next period should come along. This meant that I could look back on the cycle and figure out all of the different things that I was experiencing based on when I should have been ovulating and menstruating.
The next thing that I did was take the advice of a lovely instagrammer (who I can't remember now, but THANK YOU SO MUCH) to take Chaste Tree tablets for my acne. I have been taking it every day since and saw a remarkable improvement to my skin within 30-60 days of taking it. What I did find however was two things 1) if it was a combination of chaste tree and other herbs in the one tablet it was less effective, they had to be 100% chaste tree which meant a higher dosage I assume; and 2) it lessened the breakouts that I was having throughout the month and during menstruation but I was still getting some really horrible, painful acne when I was menstruating.
If you read my previous post I found that drinking the Your Tea Skin Magic tea definitely helped my skin, but I'm not a huge tea drinker so found that after one month I was out of routine and didn't bother trying again. I also tried Skinny Mint tea to try to help with bloating, and definitely felt like it helped a little bit but am no where near committed enough to keep it going...
I also had other recommendations around eating an alkalising diet and drinking bone broth. Similar to my tea-trials, I'm not so great at sticking to a particular diet, everything in moderation, but the bone broth recommendation is amazing and I'm going to keep trying to drink it as often as possible because I really notice a difference. A couple of weeks ago I went to a hot yoga class and drank half a litre of chicken bone broth (because I had it there and to help rehydrate afterwards) and the next day I woke up and my skin was glowing. What made it even better is that I got my period that same day and my skin stayed CLEAR THE WHOLE ENTIRE TIME!!!!!! I know right... amazing! Usually I would start to get a breakout as my hormones shift during my period, but not this time.
In addition to that, my good friend Georgia (who is an amazing nutritionist and has really kicked my butt into gear as far as fuelling it right for the amount of movement I do) prescribed me to take a liver detox supplement as I learnt that your liver controls your hormone production and health (make sure you consult with your professionals or contact Georgia as a qualified nutritionist before you do this). After taking that supplement for 30 days straight, once a day, a spoonful in water, my skin has made an incredible improvement and glows more often than it looks dull. I also found that since doing that I haven't had ANY major breakouts on or under my chin or on my neck - even when I've been menstruating.
Last but not least, I've found that a little bit of self-love and care goes a long way and have been making sure that I do one if not two face masks each week. There are 3 that I switch between, Dr Manuka Acne ApiClear Face Peel, Payot Mask D'Tox & a Rotorua Thermal Mud Mask that I picked up duty free on my way home from Wanderlust Great Lake Taupo.
My skin is by no means perfect still, and I've realised just how little I actually know about female hormone and reproductive system health but I'm so lucky that I've got an incredibly open, loving and caring community willing to share their tips and tricks and have so much incredible knowledge to share.