Life happens and somehow the years fly by. Then before we know it we are in our fourth decade.
Around our late 30’s / early 40s women typically go through a transitional period (which can last several years) caused by hormonal fluctuations. This period is often referred to as ‘perimenopause’.
Due to the shifts in hormone production (mainly progesterone and estrogen), perimenopause can bring about many changes. Unlike full-fledged (or early menopause), you DO continue to ovulate and you ARE still producing estrogen. In fact, your hormones will often test in the “normal” range.
Some of the typical changes that occur during this period of estrogen and progesterone fluctuations (and then decline) include:-
- Skin Changes – eg …dryer, thinning, adult acne, rosacea, pigmentation, increased sensitivity, less elastic, itchy, lines and wrinkles & volume loss.
- Hot Flushes
- Trouble sleeping
- Poorer concentration & also memory
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Increased PMS symptoms
- Irregular periods – often short cycles + heavier bleeding.
- Weight changes
- Decrease in breast volume
- Change in sex drive
Specific SKIN Changes
Changes in our skin predominantly occur due to:-
- the multiple effects of hormonal fluctuations
- a shrinking skeleton
- decreased collagen production
- accumulated sun damage over the years
- Repetitive facial expressions over the years (causing lines and wrinkles to become etched in). See more info here.
Beginning in our 30’s, our levels of androgens increase. Testosterone stimulates sebaceous glands to secrete thicker sebum. This can cause clogged pores and an increase the likeliness of adult Acne.
……see ‘Adult Acne’ Article for more information
Due to the unstable progesterone / estrogen levels + increased testosterone, some women may develop the odd sprout (or two or three) of facial hair, particularly in the chin area.
Sagging Skin and Wrinkles:
When progesterone levels drop (causing estrogen to become unstable), fat deposits tend to become redistributed. Fat pads in our face (which provide support and structure) diminish. Instead our adipose cells can become more concentrated around the abdomen, thighs and buttocks. Leading Dermatologist Dr Kathy Fields describes this as “fat redistribution from our face to our Fanny” 😳. The result of this loss of volume in our face, can be the formation of wrinkles and skin that appears less taut.
Continuous muscle contraction over the years, is another major contributor of facial wrinkles. Continuous muscle movement causes ‘dynamic wrinkles’ which only appear when the muscle is used, however, over time, if untreated, these wrinkles can become ‘static wrinkles’ which means they become permanently etched in our skin.
Thiner less elastic Skin:
Collagen is the supportive protein structure of our skin. It helps give skin it’s youthful plumpness. Skin stays more supple when there is enough progesterone …..which helps stimulate the production of collagen.
The maintenance of Melanocytes (cells that manufacture the pigment Melanin) is under the control of estrogens. As we move closer to menopause, the number of melanocytes in the skin is reduced. With less melanocytes, we produce less of the protective melanin and skin appears lighter. Our skin is therefore more prone to sun damage.
As estrogen helps regulate the production of melanin (pigment), melanin synthesis can increase (when estrogen decreases). This can then lead to brown “age spots”. These can appear on the face, hands, neck, arms and chest of many women. This is particularly evident in areas of our skin that have been exposed to the sun over the years. See here for more info on pigmentation and melasma.
Dry and sometimes itchy skin
Estrogen stimulates the production of oils in our skin and also our skins ability to hold moisture. So when estrogen production diminishes – dry and sometimes itchy skin becomes common.
However it’s not all bad news, there it’s lots we can do which helps dramatically. If you haven’t yet whipped your anti-aging routine into shape, now’s the time—because it only gets harder from here.
What can help?
- A healthier diet – a healthy outside starts on the inside.
- Skip long hot showers which drys our Skin out.
- Supplements – such as Zinc (can do wonders for Skin), probiotics (as gut health is linked to Skin health), Omega 3’s which help with inflammation and dryness, Vitex, Sage, black cohosh etc. Speak to a naturopath.
- Sun protection +++
- read previous Gut Article!!
- See previous Adult Acne Article!!
- Retinol (Vitamin A) based night serums – is anti-aging as it helps with collagen building and the rate at which skin cells generate. Amp up your results even further by using a dermal-roller prior.
- Going to bed earlier – as lack of sleep can add to hormonal imbalance, inflammatory skin conditions and adult acne. Aim for 7-9 hours per night.
- Manage stress – as cortisol can trigger skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea and acne. Stress also robs us of progesterone.
- Exercise – helps with circulation (blood flow to your skin) and also stress management. See previous article.
- Quit smoking as it has been linked to early menopause.
- Some people choose to get mustcle relaxant injections – these work to prevent the formation of static wrinkles by stopping the signal between the nerve and muscle. The decreased movement in the muscle places less stress on the skin helping to give a fresh and youthful appearance. Anti-wrinkle injections are made from a purified protein that temporarily causes facial muscles to relax, instantly softening lines and wrinkles and reducing the severity of visible wrinkles. Please contact Victoria for more information on Laser Clinics Australia bookings. Or visit the LCA website
- Hyaluronic dermal filler injections – once again, this is a personal choice made by some people. A dermal filler helps re-volumise and hydrate the face. Made from hyaluronic gel – a natural sugar already present in the human body. Hyaluronic can help restore fullness and volume in numerous facial areas. Visit here for more details.
- See the Beauty Booster Treatment
- Upgrade your Skincare Regime / Products – to suit your changing skin conditions. Visit the Solution Tool for further advice regarding which skincare products will best suit your individual skin concerns.
- Skin Treatments….eg Skin Needling
- See ‘5 Of The Worst Things You Can do For Your Skin’
- Progesterone Cream helps a lot of women with Perimenopausal symptoms in general. I highly recommend Ona’s Natural Progesterone Cream
- Vitex – has been traditionally used in Western herbal medicine for menstrual cycle irregularities and to help relieve symptoms associated with PMS. It can also provide symptomatic relief of hormone-induced acne. Visit your local health food shop or nutritionist for more information.
Victoria Isherwood (Registered Nurse / Dermatology) ☺️