If you suffer from endometriosis, then you're probably all too familiar with the pelvic pain and possible infertility problems it can cause. While these conditions are distressing, they do not lead to changes in your appearance. Endometriosis and its treatments, however, can lead to changes in your appearance, but they are usually temporary and typically resolve once your treatment is complete and your condition is under control. Here are three ways endometriosis and its treatment can alter the way you look and what you can do about it:
Since endometriosis is commonly fueled by high levels of estrogen, treatment is usually geared toward lowering circulating estrogen levels in your blood. One common anti-estrogen medication that helps shrink endometrial lesions is danazol, which is in a class of drugs known as androgens. Danazol can also raise testosterone levels while lowering estrogen, and because of this, you may be more prone to developing acne, and, in particular, cystic acne.
Lowering the dosage of your medication can help prevent skin problems, but your doctor may recommend that you see a dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment. In the meantime, washing your face at the first sign of oiliness can help prevent sebaceous build up that can further aggravate acne. Using over-the-counter topical acne medications and antibacterial facial washes can also help keep acne at bay.
Endometriosis, especially severe cases or cases that are left untreated, can lead to extreme menstrual bleeding and bleeding in-between your periods. Because of losing so much blood, you may become anemic, which may result in pallor, or paleness.
If you experience heavy bleeding because of endometriosis and notice that your skin looks paler than usual, see your OBGYN, who can recommend a complete blood count and iron test to check your hemoglobin, hematocrit, and iron levels. If these are low, treatment for anemia can begin, which usually includes taking ferrous sulfate, or iron supplements, and eating foods rich in iron such as green, leafy vegetables and lean meat. Once your blood levels return to normal, your pallor will subside.
Fluctuating hormonal levels coupled with anti-estrogen therapy can cause hair changes in women who have endometriosis. Because androgen medications can raise testosterone levels, women may experience a type of hair loss known as female pattern baldness, and an oily scalp.
If you are losing excessive amounts of hair, your doctor may lower your medication dosage; however, your hair will usually grow back completely after your anti-estrogen therapy has ended. To keep your hair from looking greasy, wash it frequently with a clarifying shampoo and avoid overuse of conditioners.
If you have endometriosis and develop acne on your face, chest, or back, or if you notice hair changes or paleness, see your doctor. The sooner these symptoms are brought to your physician's attention, the sooner an effective treatment plan can be implemented to treat them.
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