Acne is troubling at any age, but it can flare up especially during major hormonal shifts in your life like puberty and pregnancy. However, acne that's caused by hormones may be indicative of an underlying problem or illness, making getting to the bottom of your acne even more important.
Puberty is the most notable time acne flares up. As you enter adolescence, increased amounts of hormones begin surging through your body. While girls will experience heightened levels of estrogens, they will also experience a boost in androgens as boys do. It is believed these androgens are mostly responsible for the appearance of hormonal acne.
Becoming pregnant sends your body into a tailspin. Not only is it preparing to support a life, it's also producing copious amounts of hormones. For some, this may mean clearer skin, however, the often talked about pregnancy "glow" is really just a boost in oil from the skin's sebaceous glands and can result in increased acne.
Another time in life that causes dramatic hormonal fluctuations is menopause. A woman's levels of estrogens will slowly decrease over time, leading her to cease menstruation. However, this can cause a comparable rise in androgens, leading to acne flare-ups later in life.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Another cause of hormonal acne is a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. This condition can cause hair thinning, acne and increased body hair. Women with this syndrome will have irregular periods and weight problems. These symptoms in combination with acne may be a sign that you have PCOS and should be tested. However, acne by itself is likely just acne and nothing more.
In some cases, an underlying condition may not be to blame, but a simple hormone imbalance could cause unexpected acne breakouts. If you have very oily skin, breakout often and show signs of other hormonal problems like irregular periods and increased body hair in women, your hormone levels should be tested.