Monday, November 20, 2017

7 Skin and hair must haves when you are on Accutane

A little while back I wrote about my healthy skin diet - the low-glycemic, high anti-oxidant, no dairy diet that helps with acne and makes your skin all glowy. After a year of not having ANY sugar, I really really wanted a cookie. Badly. So I did. And then I broke out. After a couple more test runs with a sweet here and there, I realized I may not be able to have sugar ever again if I don't want to break out. Finally I succumbed to my dermatologist's advice, and I went on Accutane (3rd time's a charm!!), and will be done with it next month. I have to say, my skin looks awesome. I am still on the diet for the most part, since I do feel better overall not having sugar or dairy, but I can finally have a sorbet after dinner if I want.

I figured I would share my top items that I have been using while on Accutane. I have been diligent about using them, which has kept the side effects to a minimum.
  1. Lip balm: Aquaphor.

    One of the first side effects of being on Accutane is your lips drying out. It takes chapped lips to another level. I have tried pretty much every single lip balm and keep coming back to Aquaphor. I keep some in each purse, by my bed, by the kitchen, and by the couch. There is no way to make it through a course of Accutane without some.

  2. Facial sunscreen: Elta MD UV Clear

    This stuff is my favorite sunscreen of all time.  I started Accutane in the summer, and while I use this everyday regardless, this sunscreen really is amazing. It goes on smooth, blends in well, looks great under makeup, and has a high enough SPF to really protect your skin.

  3.  Everyday sunscreen: Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF15.

    Aveeno makes a great, unscented everyday body lotion that has SPF 15. It isn't for when you are really out in the sun on the beach, but it is perfect for walking around town.

  4. Heavy night cream:

    I have fallen in love with Cerave's skin renewing night cream. I would probably never dream of putting this on my face when I was acne ridden and oily, but right now it is exactly what I need. It is thick without being the least bit greasy, extremely well moisturizing, and I wake up with my skin feeling SO soft.

  5. Gentle face cleanser: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.

    This is another awesome product that I use all the time, but it really is a necessity when on Accutane. It is super gentle and removes make up like a breeze. It is a little counterintuitive to smear oil on your face to clean it, but this cleanser rinses totally clean leaving your face super soft and not the least bit oily.

  6. Heavy duty conditioner: Redken Diamond Oil Conditioner

    Accutane dries you out all over, including your hair. While I don't need to wash my hair for days now (which is all together amazing), this conditioner makes my hair silky and shiny.

  7. Hand lotion: Aveeno Skin Relief Hand Lotion

  8. Using hand lotion religiously is always important in the winter, but when you are on Accutane, it is crucial. Accutane makes your skin very sensitive, and since you use your hands all the time, you are more prone to nicks and cuts. This hand lotion is not just great at protecting your hands, but does a miraculous job healing the most chapped and cracked of skin.
On top of the products listed here, make sure you drink plenty of water and be gentle with your skin! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Post C-section body: The shiz no one tells you

I could probably write a book or two about all the things that happen to women's bodies that no one prepares you for. But what I found the most shocking is what happened to my body after I had a c-section that no one told me about.  I'll post another day on the actual surgery and recovery, but for now I'll concentrate just on what happens appearance wise.

First things first, you may not have pushed a human out of your vagina, but that doesn't mean your lady parts don't get mangled. Your labia will swell up something crazy. It may not swell evenly. It may scare the bejesus out of you to even look down there. You will worry that this is what your lady bits will look like forever. I promise you, the swelling will go down! And quickly - give it a week or two, and your lady lips will be back to normal.

Then you take a gander down to your incision, which is a little scary. Just remember, your belly was CUT open and then a child was yanked out and then you got stapled or stitched back together (I had both done - no real difference either way).  You will have these surgi-strips along your incision, which come off on their own in about two weeks, and a thin line that is kind of smile shaped. It may look crooked in the beginning - not to worry,  you are swollen and your belly is all sorts of mush in the beginning. It evens out, and eventually the scar will be so thin that you kind of forget it's there.

Because of the vast amounts of fluids that are IVed into your body both before, during, and after surgery, your legs may swell up to tree trunks. The first 24 hours you have to wear these leg compression contraptions to prevent clotting since you are laid up. But after that, you may look down and realize that you no longer have ankles. Make sure you WALK as much as you can when you are in the hospital - it helps get those fluids moving and out of your body.

And your belly - oh the joys of the weird, squishy, enormous uterus post-partum belly. You expect to pop out that baby and then have your belly and uterus shrink back down just the way it was. Sadly, this does not happen (and if it happened to you, bravo!). Instead your belly becomes this like empty sack for a while. You will lay on your side and your belly just kind of flops over. But like everything else, this too shall pass. I'm not promising that your abs will return to their former glory, but that squishiness goes away as your uterus shrinks back. Think about it - your little uterus, usually the size of a small fist or pear, gets as big as a watermelon when you are pregnant. That doesn't reverse itself overnight (and if it did, again, good for you).

I could wax poetic about how it is amazing that you created a beautiful life, and that is what you should be concentrating on right after birth. And yes, much of that is true. But that is a disservice to  how much our bodies have been through, and how crazy it all feels at the time. It's okay to be freaked out! Take a deep breathe, sniff that baby head, and remember this too shall pass.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fertility and PCOS: When PCOS can be a POS

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a total bitch. Ok, I'm tired and lashing out but really PCOS can be a POS (or piece of sh!t) when it comes to fertility. What exactly is PCOS? It is a relatively common hormonal imbalance that brews trouble with the ovaries (don't remember the ovaries do? Here is a refresher), where eggs may not develop or release as they should. The wonky ovaries then cause you to miss or have irregular periods. And contrary to the name, you may not actually have cysts on your ovaries and still have PCOS. Often women will have too much androgen, which is a male hormone that women normally only produce a small amount.

About 5 to 10% of women of reproductive age have PCOS, and it is the most common cause of infertility in women. A lot of women don't even know they have PCOS until they are trying to get pregnant! The symptoms of PCOS can include:

  • whacky periods - either missing them or getting them too often
  • being especially hairy on your face and chin
  • acne
  • thinning hair - think male pattern baldness
  • weight gain or trouble losing weight
  • darker skin along the neck , groin, and under your breasts
  • fatigue and trouble sleeping
  • skin tags the armpit or neck area. 
Having one of these symptoms alone isn't going to mean that you have PCOS - I have acne and plenty of skin tags. And god knows I'm tired (I think I already mentioned that).  But if you have several of these symptoms, particularly those that are associated with male hormones (acne, hairiness, thinning hair) it might be a good idea to check in with your lady parts doctor. 

PCOS can be treated, but much of it depends on your symptoms. Some will be encouraged to lose weight to increase ovulation function, while others will be put on medication to stimulate ovulation. If PCOS is treated correctly, you can get pregnant once you start ovulating. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What's the thyroid got to do with it? The connection between thyroids and fertility

If you are trying for a baby and haven't been having luck, you should get your thyroid checked out. In fact, I suggest that BEFORE you try to get pregnant you ask your lady parts doc to run a thyroid panel. Why you ask? Well, there is sometimes a link between a hypothyroidism (when your thyroid isn't working up to speed) and infertility. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in your neck that makes a bunch of hormones that regulate everything from how quickly you burn calories to your heartbeat. It also produces the hormones needed for menstruation (your period) and sexual function.  A normally working thyroid is super important for getting pregnant and staying pregnant.

A study in 2015 found that almost 25% of infertile women had a low functioning thyroid, or hypothyroidism. With hypothyroidism, your thyroid doesn't produce enough of certain hormones, which can screw up with the release of an egg from your ovary (ovulation). Also, some of the underlying causes of hypothyroidism may also make it hard to get pregnant. The good news is that after treating for hypothyroidism (usually taking hormone therapy to correct thyroid levels), over 75% of women were able to get pregnant.

Since you can be having thyroid problems and not even know it (many women have no symptoms), asking for a simple blood test can save you a lot of aggravation later on.  Treatment for a wacky thyroid is pretty safe and easy, and can fix the problem within weeks. One thing to note, that while thyroid function may come back within normal range, in order to get pregnant and maintain a pregnancy, your thyroid levels need to be within a smaller range. Make an appointment with your lady parts doctor to get yourself checked out, and if need be, an endocrinologist can also be a great resource. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Stop putting random things in your lady parts!

I'm just going to put this out there - unless there is a medical reason, you shouldn't put random things in your vagina. Like ever. Jade eggs for example. Definitely do not do this. It is a terrible idea to put rocks in your vagina. Penises, tampons, menstrual cups, fingers - sure. Rocks - definitely no. Wasps nests - my god, the horror. Putting random items in your lady parts can cause a host of problems. From infections, to vaginal wall scratching, to just plain getting stuck (um, super awkward). Also, by forcing your vag muscles to constantly contract, you end up screwing them up and will have problems releasing them properly.

There are other ways to strengthen your lady part muscles without walking around with an egg in there. For example:

  • Kegels: You've probably heard of these, but are you doing them right?Here is a quick guide. Don't forget that releasing the pelvic floor muscles are just as important as tightening them. This is an interesting visualization aid using a corkscrew (please don't go put a corkscrew up your lady parts. Watch the video). 
  • Squats - yes, good old fashioned squats. But make sure you are properly aligned and using the right muscles. Shins should be vertical (up and down), and your booty should be out (untucked). 
  • Bridge pose where you lift and lower your hips while engaging your pelvic floor muscles. 

And don't fall for the vaginal weights either. They seem to be the rage (seriously, what is up with everyone sticking heavy things in their lady parts?!) but studies have shown that they didn't really do anything.

As always, if you are having any pain, discomfort, problems with peeing, make an appointment with your lady parts doctor!

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