Infertility ‘battle wounds’: My struggle with acne during infertility & pregnancy
Full disclosure: I didn’t want to publish this picture.
For as long as I can remember, I have had issues with my skin. Since I was a teenager, I have been on almost every topical acne cream you can imagine, and it has always made me self-conscious. Birth control got my skin under control for a while, but fast forward to going off of the pill and all hell broke loose.
As many of you know, after stopping birth control my menstrual cycle never came back and I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which kick-started my fertility journey. I’m not sure if it was the lack of the pill or the fertility medications I was on at the time, but my skin became the worst it has ever been. I developed hormonal cystic acne all over my cheeks. You know, the kind that’s hard to cover up even with makeup.
I don’t consider myself a vain person, but my acne became a constant reminder every time I looked in the mirror of my battle with infertility. It was also one of the reasons I was so open with my friends and family from the beginning about my journey. I almost wanted to justify to people why I had broken out so badly, as if they needed an explanation. Spoiler alert: they didn’t.
During this time I was also convinced that if my hormones were so all over the place, there was no way I was going to get pregnant. It definitely wasn’t good for seeing the glass half full. And on top of that, my dermatologist wouldn’t prescribe me any medication to help my breakouts since I was trying to conceive. It was the first of many lessons during my fertility journey on giving up control, and it was a difficult one.
Although my acne calmed down a little bit in early pregnancy, it came back full force in my third trimester. This sounds awful, but I was almost happy I was on bed rest for those last few weeks because part of me didn’t even want to leave the house looking the way I did. It’s sad, because at the same time I was so genuinely grateful to simply be pregnant, but it’s the truth.
Let’s just say that by the time I gave birth to my twins, I was pretty much at the end of my rope when it came to my skin. After 2+ years of fluctuating hormones due to infertility and pregnancy, I couldn’t wait to get my hormones, my body, and my skin back to normal.
This morning, at 4 weeks postpartum, I finally went to the dermatologist and took the first steps to getting my skin under control. He prescribed me doxycycline and two different topical creams, so here goes nothing! This is not about my looks; it is about feeling comfortable in my own skin again and being the best version of myself for my children.
At the same time, I am realizing that this was all just another part of my journey to becoming a mom. I like to think of my acne as battle wounds from everything I went through to conceive my babies, and when I think of it that way, it doesn’t seem like such a bad deal!