My Time On Spironolactone

My Time On Spironolactone

Treating PCOS is really tough. Everyone is different so what works for some might not work for others. The treatments include various types of birth control, Metformin, diet changes, medications that help ovulation, Spironolactone and losing weight if overweight or obese.

When I was in my early 20s, I was put on Spironolactone to help with my PCOS symptoms. Here is how it went.

What is Spironolactone?

Image result for Spironolactone
Taken from http://www.webmd.com

Spironolactone is a diuretic most commonly used to treat heart problems, high blood pressure and low potassium (see here: https://www.drugs.com/spironolactone.html) It is also used to treat PCOS related symptoms which include acne, hair loss and excess male-pattern hair growth. This is due in part to its ability to lower androgen levels.

The dosages women are usually given are in the range of 50-200 mg per day. There are a lot of side effects that one can experience. These include weight gain, low energy, muscle loss, headaches, nausea/vomiting, itchy skin, dehydration and aggravation of PCOS symptoms ( see here: https://pcos.com/spironolactone/ ).

My Experience with it

I started taking Spironolactone when I was 21 years old with the goal of controlling my acne and oiliness. It was worse at that time than it is now. I also had mild hirsutism (it is worse now).

My dosage started out at 25 mg. We decided on this dose because I am really sensitive to medications. The maximum dosage for me was going to be 50 mg.

The first couple weeks at 25 mg, I noticed no side effects. Some women lose water weight at first but since I never weigh myself due to past eating disorder issues, I did not notice any.

Since it is potassium-sparing, I had to watch my diet to make sure I was not consuming a lot of foods that contained potassium in them (i.e. bananas). I also had to go in for blood tests to get the potassium level checked.

It does take around three months to notice differences in your skin so I was told not to get my hopes up for instant results. After tolerating 25 mg, I moved up to 50 mg. This was when I started to experience side effects.

The first thing I noticed was that my strength for weight lifting really went down. I went from being able to bench press 150 pounds to only being able to bench press 75 pounds. Also, I would black out sometimes when trying to push ups.

I also experienced some pelvic pain at times. It was sharp and caused me to double over. Even still, I kept taking the medication. I was really hoping that these side effects might go away and it would start working for me.

After three months on the medication, I can honestly say that I did not notice much of anything positive from it. The only thing that I guess got a little better was the oiliness of my skin. It was still pretty bad at times though.

My acne actually got worse on it. Little pimples showed up in the mustache area and I would regularly get two huge cysts on both sides of my nose. It was embarrassing to say the least. The pock marks by my nose are daily reminders of what I had to deal with.

I decided to stop taking it shortly after having a horrible breakout on my cheeks. It was so bad and took about six weeks to clear up. There was no reason to continue taking the medication anymore.

Do I recommend it despite my experience?

My experience is my own. There are a lot of people who have had great success when on Spironolactone. With that said, I would recommend it for someone who has PCOS or just bad acne.

It could work for someone else and be the key to fixing their problems. It is not good of me to sit here and say that since it did not help me at all, it won’t help others.

Have any of you been on this medication?

Skin Problem: Severe Hyperpigmentation

Skin Problem: Severe Hyperpigmentation

I have had skin problems since the second half of my 5th grade year. Having to hear that it happens to all children who are going through puberty was rough due to the fact that very few of my peers had acne.

It was really bad for a long time. I have used many different treatments in order to get it under control. These include oral antibiotics, Retin-A (multiple times), salicylic acid, benzyl peroxide, Clindamycin, Differin, alpha hydroxy acids and spironolactone. The treatments helped only a little. Starting at about the age of 28, the amount of acne I got started lessening considerably. Currently, I only get a few pimples around the time my period starts. Not sure why this has occurred by I am certainly not going to complain.

Now that my acne is under better control, I am left with the aftermath called hyperpigmentation. This is when a blemish leaves a dark mark behind after it has healed. It is very common in darker skinned individuals and it is hard to treat (at least for me it is). I have scoured forums and articles about getting rid of these marks which has led me to try all sorts of products (chemical peels, acid serums, acid toners, hydroquinone etc). It seems like they have either just not worked due to them not being strong enough for my skin or they would actually work but take more time than I gave them. It is really frustrating.

I have been keeping my face routine simple these days and pretty much have accepted the fact that my skin will be crappy looking for the rest of my life. For “treatments”  I have started to use a homemade 5% niacinamide cream (supposed to be good for hyperpigmentation), a lactic acid serum (occasionally) and sunscreen every 2 hours. I am not going to get my hopes up about the 5% niacinamide cream that I made but I do have to say that it moisturizes my skin really well and leaves me with a glow.  I would highly recommend it to anyone into making their own products or to find a product on the market that contains it.

If you are interested in skin care and want to find good products I would highly suggest going over to https://www.makeupartistschoice.com/. They have so many products to choose from. Another good site is https://www.makeupalley.com. You can see reviews on products and decide if you want to try them or not.

 

PCOS

PCOS

I have PCOS. I wanted to get straight to the point with that. If you have read up on PCOS and/or have it yourself, you would know how tough it can be. It affects women in varying degrees however. I have heard of some women who have had cysts found on their ovaries during an ultrasound exam but experienced no other symptoms than that. I am not one of those women.

I went through puberty at age 11 (5th grade). This is considered pretty early I believe. My periods were regular (still are) which was nice but I was still unhappy that I had to wear pads when none of my friends had to. Not long after I got my period  I also started getting bad acne. It started on my forehead and moved down to my chin and around my lips. Having acne shot my self esteem down even lower than it already was. It was tough enough being one of the very, VERY few black people in the school but to add in the disfigurement that the acne caused…whew! I felt so horrible and depressed.

Age 13 came around and I started developing lovely upper lip hair. My mom noticed it and pointed it out to me. I am not sure why I did not see it myself first. I ended up getting waxed regularly. Oh and I still had bad acne. As far as depression went, middle school was not as bad as 5th grade but there were still lingering feelings of sadness.

Everything becomes jumbled up beyond middle school in regards to how exactly I came to be diagnosed with PCOS. I know that in high school I still had bad acne, worsening depression, stomach fat, excess hair, oily skin and food cravings. These symptoms continued on except that I did decide to get fit and lost a lot of fat at age 19. Then at 24 I was diagnosed with PCOS.

I think I must have googled my symptoms one day and came to a PCOS site. I went to a Gynecologist to get the battery of tests that are done for a PCOS diagnosis. These included an ultrasound and blood tests (cholesterol, insulin, total testosterone, free testosterone, estrogen, DHEA and progesterone). The blood tests showed normal results but my ultrasound did show that I had cysts on my ovaries. You can still have normal hormone levels and have PCOS. This just means that your body is responding to your hormones as if they are out of whack.

There are medications you can take for PCOS and I will talk about that in the next post.