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Do fertility treatments affect your skin?

New Delhi, Sep 17, 2023- Even though more women in India have access to infertility treatment services and experts, dealing with infertility continues as one of the most difficult issues women face. Infertility is described by the WHO as “a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”

Dr. Shobha Gupta, Medical Director and Infertility specialist from Mother’s Lap IVF Centre, New Delhi and Vrindavan explains that “Women believe that having periods is a natural procedure for which they were born, regardless of whether they are regular or not. They begin to experience stress when they are unable to conceive.

They don’t interact with others or conduct independent research, which undoubtedly has an impact on their bodies. The mechanisms of reproduction heavily rely on hormones. They decide when to release an egg, how it grows, the timing of menstrual cycles, etc. The two hormones that are essential to these processes are oestrogen and progesterone. Therefore, infertility may happen if the levels of these hormones dramatically rise or fall.”

The most obvious indication of hormonal changes is acne. This is not comparable to a sporadic pimple. Along with the T zone, the cheeks, jawline, and bottom portion of the face are also affected. “In addition, when you receive any type of fertility treatment, it is typical to have skin redness, dryness, flaky skin, pigmentation, or melasma.

While the well-known glow of pregnancy is one benefit, some women also have skin issues as a result of the medicines used to trigger ovulation during their infertility treatment journey. However, the surge of hormones recommended during a reproductive cycle can also cause some undesirable side effects in addition to the glow,” explained Dr. Shobha Gupta.

Let’s explore what exact skin conditions you face while undergoing fertility treatment explaining Dr. Sandeep Babbar, Medical Director and Dermatologist from Revyve Skin, Hair and Nail Clinic, Faridabad:

Acne: Hormonal changes are what cause acne. Acne-prone women frequently also have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is frequently linked to infertility. High levels of androgen, or male hormones, are what define this. Ovulation may not occur at all or may occur irregularly as a result.

Skin Redness – Elevated oestrogen levels might result in skin redness by expanding blood vessels and flushing the skin. “Hot flashes may be accompanied by redness and flushing, which can occasionally be brought on by medications” said Dr. Sandeep Babbar.

Injection site irritation – Although the daily needles are the main cause of skin issues, some women may also experience negative side effects from the medicine solution that contains the fertility medication. Progesterone, according to Dr. Sandeep Babbar, is one example. Because sesame oil is used to make these injections, some women may react negatively to it.

Other conditions such as skin dryness, hair loss, under-eye bags, pigmentation, darkening of the face and melasma, redness, and rosacea flare-ups. These injections are prepared with oil. The good news according to Dr. Sandeep Babbar is that most skin reactions to fertility treatments will go away once the procedure has finished.

How to treat it?

If at all possible, attempt to control any current skin issues before beginning IVF. This is my best advice. If the skin issue is moderate or severe, you might need to see your dermatologist because prescription medication can be needed.

Dr. Sandeep Babbar uses chemical peels, hydroquinone-based bleaching creams, and Cosmelan peels to treat patients’ persistent acne once fertility treatments or pregnancies are over and skincare restrictions are no longer required. “Chemical peels can help increase skin cell turnover and treat facial discoloration,” he claims. Treatments for skin discolouration brought on by hormonal aftereffects include retinols, a substance that should not be used while pregnant, and vitamin C serum, a potent antioxidant for the skin.

Please follow below tips by Dr. Sandeep Babbar:

During your fertility treatment, keep your skincare basic and non-stripping by using a mild cleanser, a non-pore-blocking (non-comedogenic), moisturising product, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Consider using a slightly heavier nighttime moisturiser and/or a moisturising serum if your skin is dry.

Alpha hydroxy acids, such as lactic or mandelic acid, azelaic acid, or niacinamide, may be useful components to include if your skin is oily or acne-prone. Use these active components in skincare only if you are comfortable doing so.

To avoid sensitivity and irritation and for the greatest outcomes, try to be specific and consistent with the items you use.

If you’re still having trouble, speak with a professional for customized advice. You should also stay in frequent contact with your infertility specialist so they are aware of your struggles and can be of assistance.

“Treatment for infertility can have a variety of consequences on the body, including the skin. It is truly a transformational experience. Retinoids, Hydroquinone, and salicylic acid are some items that should be avoided during your pregnancy journey. Consult with your fertility doctor before beginning any skin care regimen” insists Dr. Shobha Gupta.

Among the usual changes people may feel throughout infertility treatments include hormonal shifts, skin sensitivity, hyperpigmentation, dryness, and itching. “At the end of the day, each person’s skin is unique, and their effects may differ as well.” The best way to develop a safe, healthy, and practical strategy that meets your unique circumstances is to speak with your doctor. For individualised counselling and support throughout the IVF procedure, I strongly advise speaking with medical professionals.” concluded Dr. Sandeep Babbar. (Agency)

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