Pregnancy and Fertility Skin 101
From the planning stages of pregnancy through to IVF and other fertility treatments, the skin takes a hit during this life shifting stage of life – but with new developments in pregnancy and fertility driven skincare you can easily come through multiple pregnancies with that ‘post baby glow.’
The most common skin visitors, during this period, can include Acne, pruritic urticarial papules, dark spots, stretch marks, scarring, and spider veins as well as itching skin.
Pregnant skin and how to support it:
Most people suffer from hormone breakouts during pregnancy due to increased sebaceous gland activity, which can cause conditions such as hyper pigmentation driven melasma.
According to luxury skincare expert, Dr Barbara Sturm, ‘we often overlook what products we use on our skin during pregnancy, these products can absorb into the bloodstream and cross the blood placenta barrier. When you are pregnant, the body’s progesterone levels are also heightened, which can have effects on the skin such as acne, melasma, dryness, and a weakened skin barrier.’
So extra attention needs to be paid to ingredients: dermatologists largely advise to research ‘cosmeceuticals’ carefully for active ingredients and avoid using acids, such as retinol during pregnancy as it absorbs quickly into the bloodstream and thus can cross the placenta. Instead, you can swap in the ‘softer’ lactic acid and glycolic acid. Hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C are also good alternatives – the former helps to bind water molecules to the surface giving all day long hydration. Whilst Vitamin C boosts elastin and collagen production and preventing melasma.
Other acids to avoid include: Salicylic acid – in very low concentrations of around 2%, it’s not a risk as little can be absorbed into the skin, but high percentages can be found in chemical peels.
Hydroquinone: is often prescribed for hyper pigmentation by dermatologists but should be avoided in pregnancy.
Formaldehyde: This is largely found in luxury haircare products and is largely absorbed into the bloodstream. It should be avoided in pregnancy.
Spironolactone and parabens: Both are proven to be fatal if absorbed into the blood whilst pregnant. Parabens also can raise levels of oestrogen in the body linking them to cancer diagnoses in extreme circumstances.
Chemical sunscreens: SPFS with ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone can cause hormone disruption and should be avoided.
With so much noise and conflicting ideas around skincare ingredients particularly during hormonal and pregnancy periods, it is worth visiting a consultant who can guide you through a personalised process.
Acclaimed aesthetic doctor, Dr David Jack who has extensive understanding of the skin from the inside out, including working with the NHS for terminally ill patients, has two London based luxury clinics focusing on all aspects of skin health, including anti-ageing treatments and aesthetic medicine. He now has included as part of the service, a pregnancy and fertility wellness area, where in house expert practitioners can create a bespoke, tailored plan to support the skincare journey for pregnant women to those undergoing extensive IVF treatments.
Dr Jo Mennie offers both pregnancy and fertility wellness sessions: From acne, pigmentation, and accelerated loss of collagen and elastin, Mennie takes a holistic, science driven and personalised approach to skincare during this seismic shift for hormones. Mennie will take you through a thorough consultation, create a tailored skincare regime for you and give a full analysis of your diet, lifestyle (including deficiencies in macro/micro-nutrients) as well as the environmental factors that might be influencing your skin health.
With the pressures of modern society causing more and more women to turn to IVF or fertility treatment as they seek to start families later in life, skin experts specifically trained in fertility skin are appearing in some of London’s most sought-after luxury skin clinics.
Fertility treatments take your skin on a rollercoaster as your body is suddenly managing a huge onslaught of embryo-friendly chemicals.
Amy Klein, author of the infertility advice book, The Trying Game, underwent years of fertility drugs and IVF treatment to conceive, including medication which caused her skin to flare up: ‘the main one, follistim, increases egg production and caused redness of the skin,’ she explains in the book.
Hormones that are used to stimulate ovulation during IVF treatment include:
Progesterone, (the counterpart to Estrogen) which is commonly used during IVF can make you break out in similar fashion to during your period. Also, you might notice facial swelling, hyperpigmentation, and oily skin.
Estrogen, loss of this hormone can make you low in mood, and can affect skin pigmentation, oil glands, hair follicles, apocrine (scent) glands. During IVF treatment or egg freezing, estrogen can climb to 10 levels higher than what your body is naturally accustomed to, thanks to the injectable medications that stimulate egg and follicle growth.
Androgen, the sex and reproductive hormones, which can increase sebum production and therefore lead to acne.
Cortisol, the ‘stress’ hormone can have a dramatic effect on the skin, particularly during the family planning process. During IVF, there is often a rise in stress related skin concerns, including sensitivity, skin redness and blotchiness.
Ross J Barr
London’s most sought-after acupuncturist focusing on women’s health, fertility and stress management, Ross J Barr, should be top of your list if you are suffering from fertility based skin issues and general stress – he works with Five Element Acupuncture, which is based on ancient Chinese theories focusing on emotional makeup of the individual more than physiology. His sessions are generally 45 mins long and are tailored made to each client’s concerns.
His new Fertility formula supplement and range of patches are available here at Dandy: