The reproductive life cycle in females is divided into various stages that include puberty, menstrual cycles and pregnancy. This reproductive life cycle ends with menopause, which denotes an end to the fertile phase. Menopause is a transitional stage that is associated with various symptoms that involve different organs of the body. Even the skin gets affected during this stage and may develop certain symptoms. What are the skin changes observed during menopause? Let us find out.
Skin Changes During Menopause
We all know that aging is one of the factors that causes skin changes. As in case of any other bodily organ, the skin too gets dull, as the proper functioning of its cells slows down. This happens in both men and women. Even factors like pollution, extent of sun exposure and smoking are said to play an important part in causing skin changes with advancing age. In case of women, menopause too has a key role in causing skin problems.
During menopausal transition, a woman may experience changes, like dry skin, thinning of skin, decreased skin elasticity and strength, etc. Some people may also develop facial skin changes during menopause, like growth of facial hair. While hair loss of the scalp is common during this stage, growth of body hair is another menopausal problem that may also occur in some women. The skin will also get dull and develop fine lines and wrinkles.
How does Menopause Affect Skin
Menopause is usually found to be a transition phase that ends with total cessation of menstrual cycles. During this transition phase, significant hormonal changes happen and this result in various symptoms, like hot flashes, insomnia, memory problems and depression. These hormonal changes affect the skin, which is already facing other problems, like aging.
As far as menopausal skin changes are concerned, estrogen is said to be the main causal agent. This hormone is found to play a key role in the normal functioning of the skin. Estrogen is involved in the functioning of some of the vital skin cells like fibroblasts, melanocytes and keratinocytes. While fibroblasts are responsible for producing collagen and elastin, melanocytes are associated with skin color. Keratinocytes are involved in skin protection. During menopausal stage, the level of estrogen declines, thereby affecting the proper functioning of these skin cells.
With lesser collagen and elastin (keeps the skin firm), the skin starts sagging, which is one of the common skin changes observed during menopause. With less number of melanocytes, the skin becomes less efficient in protecting itself from sunlight, pollutants and other such agents. Declining estrogen levels may also cause uneven skin color.
The hormone is also involved in the production of sebum, which is the oily secretion from sebaceous glands in the skin. With less sebum, the skin can get dry and itchy. This explains the link between menopause and dry skin. Estrogen is also linked to the proper function of the hair follicles and this explains why hair growth is affected during menopause. Even the blood supply to the skin gets reduced, which in turn results in lack of nutrition and hydration.
Another fact is that such skin changes are found to be conspicuous in some areas of the body, like genitals, face and lower limbs. This is because of the higher number of estrogen receptors in such areas, as compared to other parts. Vaginal skin is said to contain the largest number of estrogen receptors and so, it is highly affected with decreasing levels of estrogen.
Dealing with Skin Changes During Menopause
According to experts, a good skin care regimen along with a proper and balanced diet and regular exercise would be beneficial for reducing the severity of some of the menopausal symptoms. In case of menopausal skin changes, proper moisturizing and hydration is very much important. Use good quality moisturizers with antioxidants and sun control products for dealing with skin changes during menopause.
Drink lots of water to keep the skin hydrated from inside. As hormone replacement therapy is still a much debated subject, you have to resort to such treatment as per the instructions of an expert doctor. Even topical estrogen creams are said to be beneficial for tackling menopausal skin changes. So, if you are facing such skin changes, consult your doctor and follow his instructions.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.