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Skin changes in menopause and effects of HRT

Maria from WIMJ
16 Feb

In addition to photo-aging (sun damage) and intrinsic skin aging (changes in the skin cell functioning as the organism’s age increases) that hits both male and female sexes, women also experience a so called “hormonal aging” that comes with menopause. 

Changes in the female body that lead to menopause also lead to a permanent decline in production of a number of hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. These hormones regulate the skin functioning. Reduced estrogen level, in particular, leads to a sharp decrease in collagen content, skin elasticity, thickness and moisture levels, as well as worsening of the wound healing capacity. About 30% of collagen content in skin can be lost within the first 5 years following the menopause. 

Reduced water content in the menopausal skin means that the skin barrier can become weaker. As a result, the skin can suddenly become more sensitive and reactive. Acne spots can also appear because of the hormonal changes.

Cosmetic skincare cannot do much to prevent or reverse most of the changes associated with menopause. It can, of course, improve and mitigate the symptoms. When choosing a skincare routine for a menopausal skin, it is best to focus on hydration, sun protection, as well as supporting collagen production with actives like retinoids, vitamin C, AHAs/PHAs - if your skin can tolerate them. There is no need in cosmetic products "created specifically for menopausal skin", it is just a marketing trick. 

Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment that is sometimes prescribed by doctors to women suffering from adverse effects of menopause. This treatment involves hormonal supplementation. HRT might be able to prevent or even reverse the “hormonal aging” happening in the skin. It can as well have side effects - some of them of a more tolerable, “cosmetic” nature (for example, acne), while others are even more serious - potentially including increased cancer risk in some patients. While HRT can be effective for maintaining skin youthfulness post-menopause, it is an extremely complex medical area - please follow your doctor’s advice and prescription precisely to avoid any serious side-effects.  

Sources:

Revisiting the effects of menopause on the skin: Functional changes, clinical studies, in vitro models and therapeutic alternatives https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0047637419301988

Menopause and the skin https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1440-0960.2001.00524.x

Estrogen and skin: The effects of estrogen, menopause, and hormone replacement therapy on the skin https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0190962204022200

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