Menopause: how it can affect your skin and you....
Menopause is a natural and inevitable phase in a woman's life, typically occurring between the ages of 40 and 60. It's a unique journey, marked by hormonal shifts, physical changes, and a wide range of symptoms which affects each woman differently. While menopause is a universal experience, the way it unfolds can vary greatly due to the complex interplay of hormones, especially oestrogen and testosterone although there are other important hormones like progesterone as well. In this blog, we'll explore the importance of these hormones, how they deplete as we age, and the varying symptoms women may experience during menopause as well as where to seek support and advise.
Oestrogen is a hormone that plays a crucial role in various physiological functions within the body, including its impact on the skin. Throughout a woman's life, oestrogen levels fluctuate, with significant changes occurring during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. These hormonal shifts can influence the skin in several ways, both positively and negatively.
Youthful Appearance: Oestrogen contributes to maintaining skin's firmness, hydration, and elasticity. It stimulates the production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, which are essential components of healthy, youthful-looking skin. As a result, when oestrogen levels are optimal, the skin appears plump and smooth, and fine lines and wrinkles are less noticeable.
Hydration: Oestrogen helps regulate the body's natural oil production, keeping the skin hydrated and balanced. This can result in a healthy, radiant complexion. When Oestrogen depletes skin can become more oily and acne prone or more commonly dehydrated, dry and sensitive.
Wound Healing: Oestrogen plays a role in promoting wound healing and tissue repair. It can aid in the recovery process after injuries, surgeries, or skin-related conditions such as acne or rosacea.
Pigmentation: Oestrogen can influence the distribution of melanin in the skin. Some women may notice changes in skin pigmentation during pregnancy (often referred to as "melasma" or the "mask of pregnancy") due to increased oestrogen levels. Conversely, some women may experience a more even skin tone when oestrogen levels are stable.
Acne: While oestrogen can improve the overall quality of the skin, some women may experience acne breakouts when their hormone levels fluctuate, particularly during the menstrual cycle. Oestrogen's effects on oil production can result in clearer skin during certain phases of the menstrual cycle, but it can also make the skin oilier during other phases.
Skin Thickness: Oestrogen can influence the thickness of the skin. When oestrogen levels are higher, the skin tends to be thicker and healthier. As oestrogen declines with age, the skin can become thinner, which may lead to increased fragility.
Natural Sun Protection: Oestrogen may provide some natural protection against the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Although it is not a substitute for sunscreen, having adequate oestrogen levels can offer some degree of protection against UV damage.
Reduced Drying and Itching: Oestrogen helps in maintaining the skin's protective barrier, which minimises water loss and reduces dryness and itching. Women entering menopause may experience dry, itchy skin as a result of declining oestrogen levels.
It's essential to understand that the effects of oestrogen on the skin can also vary from person to person due to genetics and lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption as well as individual hormone levels.
Conversely, when oestrogen levels drop, such as during menopause, the skin can undergo several changes, which may include:
Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Dryness and Itching
To mitigate some of these changes and promote healthier skin during menopause, women may consider skincare products that focus on moisture retention, sun protection, and stimulating collagen production. This is also the time we generally see women seeking out skincare and aesthetic services that we offer at Aluminate Clinic. As we can carry out a comprehensive consultation and can help develop a personalised skincare and/or aesthetics regimen that addresses your specific needs.
Understanding Hormones and Their Importance
Hormones are the chemical messengers that regulate various bodily functions and play a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and well-being. Three of the primary hormones central to the discussion of menopause are oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Hormones are like the body's internal messengers, regulating a wide range of bodily functions. Two of the key hormones we're going to look at in more detail are at the heart of the menopausal experience are oestrogen and testosterone.
Oestrogen is a group of hormones that play a central role in the development of female secondary sexual characteristics and reproductive functions. These hormones have a far-reaching influence, helping to regulate the menstrual cycle, support bone health, maintain vaginal health, and even impact mood and cognitive function. Throughout a woman's reproductive years, oestrogen levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. However, as you approach menopause, these levels start to decrease significantly. This reduction is responsible for several hallmark changes, including:
Irregular menstruation before complete cessation
Hot flashes and night sweats
Mood swings and emotional changes
Decreased bone density
The most significant hormonal change during menopause is the decrease in oestrogen levels. This reduction is responsible for the disruption of the menstrual cycle, leading to irregular periods and eventually cessation. The drop in oestrogen is also the primary cause of the infamous hot flashes and night sweats that can be particularly bothersome. Vaginal dryness, a result of oestrogen depletion, can lead to discomfort during sexual intercourse and an increased risk of urinary tract infections. Furthermore, the loss of oestrogen has implications for bone health. A reduction in bone density increases the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterised by fragile and porous bones, which can result in fractures. Oestrogen also influences mood and cognitive function, contributing to mood swings and potential changes in memory and concentration.
One of the crucial things to understand about oestrogen is that it has receptors in nearly every cell of the body. This is why menopausal symptoms can vary so significantly from woman to woman; the specific responses are influenced by which cells and organs become depleted first and how they react to the declining oestrogen levels.
While testosterone is often thought of as a male hormone, it is also present in women, albeit in much lower quantities. Testosterone is crucial for various aspects of overall health, including libido, muscle mass, and bone density. As women age, their testosterone levels gradually decline, and this depletion can contribute to several symptoms during menopause, such as:
Decreased sexual desire
Reduced muscle mass
Fatigue or general decreased energy levels
It's important to note that the effects of testosterone depletion can vary among women, and some may not experience noticeable changes in their libido or muscle mass. The impact of testosterone depletion varies from woman to woman, and not all will notice significant changes in these areas.
The menopausal transition is marked by the gradual adjustment to lower oestrogen and, to a lesser extent, testosterone levels. Understanding how these hormones deplete during menopause is crucial to comprehending the changes that take place in your body and how they affect your health.
Perimenopause: The Lead-Up to Menopause
Before reaching the official menopausal stage, many women go through a phase called perimenopause. This can start as early as a woman's mid-30s or as late as her 50s and can last up to 10 years before menopause itself. During perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations intensify, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and a variety of symptoms. It's important to recognise these signs as early indicators of the impending transition.
Many women experience sometimes strange and what can see like irrational symptoms that they do not attribute to the perimenopause. Many women visit the GP and are prescribed antidepressants because the symptoms can sometime be similar to those of depression.
Post-Menopausal Risks: Heart Disease, Dementia & Osteoporosis Research has shown that women's risk of heart disease and dementia tends to increase following menopause. Oestrogen, as a protective hormone, plays a role in maintaining cardiovascular health and cognitive function. When oestrogen levels decline, the risk of heart disease and dementia can rise.
However, it's worth noting that this is not a guarantee that all post-menopausal women will experience these conditions. Many lifestyle factors, such as a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, and cognitive stimulation, can help reduce these risks. Nonetheless, understanding the role of hormones in these conditions is vital for making informed choices about your health as you journey through menopause.
Menopause is a highly individual experience. While some women may only experience a handful of common symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood swings, others may encounter a broader range with sometimes quite debilitating effects.
Perimenopause / Menopause Common Symptoms:
Hot flashes and night sweats
Irregular menstrual periods
Mood swings and irritability
Cognitive changes (e.g., memory lapses)
Hair and skin changes (e.g. hair thinning, brittle nails)
Perimenopause / Menopause symtoms you may not be aware of.
But, there are many more...
Muscle and joint pain 11. Rage
Cold Flushes 12. Tearfulness
Electric shock-like sensations 13. Adrenaline rushes
Digestive problems 14. Burning mouth
Changes in body odour 15. Watery or Dry Eyes
Increased allergies 16. Memory Loss
Dental issues 17. Tinnitus
Tingling extremities 18. High Libido
Itchy skin 19. Vulval Itch
Sore tongue 20. Word finding difficulties
NICE Guidelines and Healthcare Services
In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides guidelines and recommendations for managing menopausal symptoms. These guidelines offer evidence-based advice to healthcare professionals and aim to ensure that women receive effective support during this life transition. If you're experiencing troublesome menopausal symptoms, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider. They can provide personalised guidance and discuss various treatment options, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), lifestyle modifications, non-hormonal medications, and natural remedies. However, it is worth noting that not all healthcare professionals maybe completely up to date with the new and emerging research in this area and you may be told you can't start HRT if you are already over 50 and there are not always discussions around testosterone at all as many healthcare providers do not prescribe testosterone to women. So, it's important to understand your symptoms and to do your own research and if need be seek out a private menopause specialist clinic for further assessment and advice. You do not have to suffer or suffer in silence.
In conclusion oestrogen plays a significant role in maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin by contributing to hydration, collagen production, and wound healing. However, fluctuations in oestrogen levels, particularly during menopause, can lead to various and sometimes undesirable skin changes. Understanding these effects can help individuals make informed decisions about their skincare routine and overall health and lifestyle choices. Whilst menopause is a profound and transformative journey that is part of every woman's life, understanding the hormonal changes that occur during this phase can empower you to manage symptoms effectively and make informed decisions about your health. So, try to embrace menopause as a new chapter filled with opportunities for growth and self-discovery, and remember that you don't have to go through it alone. Seek support, explore treatment options, and take care of your overall well-being as you navigate this transition.
And if we can help with anything such as skin assessment, skincare advise, skin rejuvenation, collagen stimulation treatments or treatments for hair thinning please arrange a consultation with us using the links below;
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Aluminate Clinic Team