Does menopause change your skin? As was mentioned in the previous two posts, the last menstrual period officially marks the beginning of menopause. Of the many changes that menopause brings, changes to your skin can be most noticeable. As hormone levels drop, your skin becomes a bit thinner, various areas start to look crepey, and you may develop drier skin overall. With the loss of estrogen, it isn’t uncommon to notice random hairs sprouting up in areas such as the chin, upper lip and chest. While this may sound uncomfortable and scary, you can help slow the progression of these effects with the right interventions, such as HRT’s, hydration and topical products.
Most of the skin changes that happen in menopause can be traced back to reduced collagen and elastin levels. Up to one third of collagen is lost during the first 5 years of menopause. This loss of collagen makes skin less firm, thinner, more fragile, and prone to wrinkles. Furthermore, reduced elasticity can make pores appear larger as they no longer snap back into place.
In addition to reduced collagen, lower estrogen levels affect water retention in the skin by reducing the production of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs are highly attracted to water and help the skin to remain hydrated. Hyaluronic acid is an example of a GAG that you can purchase and apply to your skin. When skin is thinner, it holds less water and can readily become dry and itchy.
Caring For Your Skin During Menopause
When our skin becomes thinner, it’s less able to hold onto moisture and oil within the layers. The lack of hydration; water-dry vs. oil-dry will be more apparent. Therefore, using hydrating serums and oil-rich moisturizers would be appreciated.
Similarly to the skin drying out, we also experience vaginal dryness, in other words vaginal atrophy. The medical term for this is atrophic vaginitis. Didn’t think it could get worse, did you? Well, unfortunately, it does. Lower estrogen reduces blood flow to the vagina. In response, our vaginal walls thin out, become less elastic, and drier from a reduction of lubricating fluids that were once produced pre-menopause. For this, it is necessary to talk with your gynecologist to discuss medications, such as estradiol ring inserts, vaginal moisturizers, or patches to get you back on track.
How Does Menopause Change Your Skin?
Once we experience the decrease in collagen and elastin production our skin can start to look crepey in areas like the neck. In a previous post named Why is My Neck Sagging, it explains various procedures that can assist when this happens. There are supplements that encourage your body to increase collagen production. Topical products, such as retinoids (Vitamin A) also help to bolster the skin and, of course, skin care peels and medical procedures. You can take a deeper dive into the anti-aging effects of retinol in this article.
What Happened to Your Boobs?
Another little nugget I learned (the hard way) is the fact that body fat is redistributed during menopause. As I was getting dressed for a fun evening out I put on a low-cut top I liked to wear and my husband turned to me with a puzzled look and said “Babe, what happened to your boobs?” I exclaimed back, “I was wondering the same thing!” Redistribution can be a good thing for some, however, for a lot of us the fat moves into our belly area as we discussed in the previous post called What to Expect During Menopause.
Every woman goes through this, so you’re not alone. Menopause is actually a badge of honor and adds to our strength. Being a woman and having to ride the struggle-bus is part of what makes us compassionate and understanding creatures. There is beauty in the madness!
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Photos by Tatiana Twinslol from Pexels and Paola Aguilar on Unsplash