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Psoriasis and Hormones: How Hormonal Changes Can Affect You

Medically reviewed by Florentina Negoi, M.D.
Updated on February 20, 2024

“Hormone imbalances cause my psoriasis to flare up,” wrote one MyPsoriasisTeam member. Another said, “My psoriasis cleared up completely during pregnancies but got much worse during menopause. I’m convinced hormones have some effect.”


“My psoriasis cleared up completely during pregnancies but got much worse during menopause. I’m convinced hormones have some effect.”

— A MyPsoriasisTeam member

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Some people with psoriasis find that certain factors can trigger flares (periods of worsening symptoms). Common psoriasis triggers include stress, skin injuries, some medications, infections, and even the weather. Although some of these triggers can be avoided, others are harder to control.

Hormone levels can sometimes be responsible for flares in psoriasis symptoms. Hormone changes can happen during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, as well as in certain health conditions like menstrual disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid issues, and many more. Some people find that their symptoms improve during these times, and others experience flares.

How Hormone Changes Can Affect Psoriasis Symptoms

Estrogen is a female sex hormone that can influence the immune system. Estrogen also has potential skin benefits, such as preventing dry skin and wrinkling.

Estrogen levels vary at different times, including during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Changes in estrogen levels can lead to improvement or worsening of psoriasis symptoms.

The hormone progesterone may play a role in the genes associated with psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases.

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The other main female sex hormone is progesterone. Research shows that progesterone may play a role in the genes associated with psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases. As a result, hormonal shifts can affect psoriasis symptoms in some people.

Menstruation

The menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels rapidly fall in the days leading up to menstruation. Low estrogen levels increase the body’s immune response, which may lead to a psoriasis flare in some people.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes estrogen levels to rise. Psoriasis may improve during pregnancy because of high estrogen levels. Studies show that 50 percent of women with psoriasis have less severe symptoms while pregnant. After giving birth, symptoms usually return to their pre-pregnancy level. One study from the journal BioMed Research International showed that about half of women experienced a psoriasis flare-up within six weeks of giving birth, which is when estrogen returns to pre-pregnancy levels.

There’s some evidence that high inflammation levels associated with psoriasis can make it harder to become pregnant in the first place. In addition, women with psoriasis may be more likely to have comorbidities (co-existing conditions) that affect the ability to have a healthy pregnancy.

Some psoriasis medications aren’t safe during pregnancy. It’s important to let your doctor know right away if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive so they can adjust your psoriasis treatments if needed.

Menopause

Menopause is associated with a decline in estrogen levels. Low estrogen levels cause the classic menopausal symptoms of hot flashes, sleep problems, and vaginal dryness.

A drop in estrogen levels during menopause is also thought to cause psoriasis flares. In one study, almost half of women experiencing menopause reported worsening psoriasis, and only 2 percent showed improvement.

A drop in estrogen levels during menopause might contribute to psoriasis flares.

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Hormonal Contraceptives and Psoriasis

Hormonal contraceptives come in many forms, but they all work by influencing hormone levels.

Oral Contraceptives

All oral contraceptives (birth control pills) contain hormones. Some have a combination of estrogen and progestin (a manufactured version of progesterone). Others contain just progestin.

The effects of oral contraceptives on psoriasis are unclear. One study found that taking high-dose estrogen oral contraceptives led to a general improvement of psoriasis. Another study found that oral contraceptives didn’t have any effect on psoriasis. More research is needed to evaluate whether oral contraceptives can affect psoriasis symptoms.

Intrauterine Devices

An intrauterine device (IUD) is another form of birth control. An IUD is a small, flexible piece of plastic that’s placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control currently available. Once inserted into the uterus, an IUD will last for several years.

There are two basic types of IUDs. One is made of copper and blocks sperm from fertilizing the egg. The other type releases low-dose hormones to prevent pregnancy. There are no specific studies looking at the effects of either type of IUD on psoriasis symptoms. However, if you think you’re prone to flare-ups during hormonal changes, you may want to opt for the copper IUD to avoid any impact on your body’s hormone levels.

Speak With Your Doctor

If you’ve noticed that you experience psoriasis flare-ups with changing hormones, talk to your dermatologist or other health care provider. They can help evaluate your hormone levels and work with you to manage your psoriasis.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 125,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Are you living with psoriasis? Have you noticed that hormone changes affect your psoriasis? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Updated on February 20, 2024

A MyPsoriasisTeam Subscriber

When I was pregnant I was pain-free from fibromyalgia. Anyone else have this awesome miracle? I was the best pregnant woman ever. 😂 Never had morning sickness. My son was perfect! 😇

posted April 9
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Does Rainy Weather Trigger Pseuriassis?
May 15, 2024 by A MyPsoriasisTeam Member 2 answers
Florentina Negoi, M.D. attended the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania, and is currently enrolled in a rheumatology training program at St. Mary Clinical Hospital. Learn more about her here.
Jane Chung, PharmD, RPh earned a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Studies and a Doctor of Pharmacy from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Learn more about her here.

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