The transition into menopause can be accompanied by various unwanted symptoms, and while changes in skin can seem trivial compared to other risk factors associated with menopause, it should not be overlooked. Skin is your body’s largest organ and first defense against external stressors - not to mention, its important role in your health and comfort “down there’.
So what’s going on behind the scenes when it comes to menopause-associated skin changes, and how can you manage these unwanted symptoms for healthier, more comfortable, and more youthful skin?
The Connection Between Hormones & Skin
It’s impossible to discuss skin changes that occur during menopause without mentioning changes in horomone levels - specifically the marked decline in estrogen levels.
In pre-menopausal women, normal estrogen levels fall between 30 - 400 pg/mL, the production of which can be primarily attributed to the ovaries. In post-menopausal women, the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries dramatically declines, leaving most estrogen to come from the adrenal glands or fat tissue and yielding normal levels between 0 - 30 pg/mL. (1)
This decline impacts two key elements in skin health and aging: collagen production & oxidative defenses.
Collagen is a structural protein which replenishes dead skin cells to promote skin strength, elasticity and firmness. Collagen also helps maintain the structural integrity and thickness of the skin; this strengthens the skin barrier, keeping out toxic molecules, pathogens, and external aggressors. It also locks essential molecules in, such as water, to keep the skin hydrated. (2)
It turns out that fibroblasts, the skin cells that stimulate collagen production, are activated when exposed to estrogen. When estrogen levels drop, so does fibroblast activation and collagen production. (3) Consequently, around 30% of skin collagen is lost within the first five years following menopause. (4)
A primary cause of skin aging is exposure to free radicals, which oxidize cellular DNA. This leads to genomic instability, and epigenetic alterations - two of the nine hallmarks of aging. (5)
Skin fibroblasts are particularly sensitive to oxidative stress, but estrogen is able to help. Although it’s not quite clear how, estrogen has been observed to have protective, antioxidant capabilities against harmful oxidative agents. (6)
As estrogen levels drop, this oxidative defense becomes less effective and skin aging accelerates.
What does this mean for skin?These impacts are typically manifested by the following skin changes:
- Loss of firmness: Without collagen’s fibrous networks to cinch everything together, the skin can lose firmness and elasticity.
- Weakened barrier: Less collagen leads to a thinner outer layer of skin, and less effective skin barrier.
- Dehydration: Estrogen stimulates production of hyaluronic acid, a substance known for its capacity to hold water, and keep the skin hydrated. (7)
- Heightened sensitivity: During menopause, the skin’s pH can change leading to increased sensitivity to chemicals. The weakened skin barrier, and loss of estrogen’s antioxidant-like properties also increase sun sensitivity.
And what about the skin “down there”?
There’s a thin, moisturizing barrier in the vagina that works to moisturize the vaginal tissue. This barrier coats the walls of the vagina and provides an alkaline environment that sperm survives and travels in for sexual reproduction. This barrier also serves to lubricate the vaginal wall, thus supporting sexual intercourse for a comfortable and pleasurable experience. However, as a woman evolves in age, so does her hormonal production. This shift in hormonal production can trigger the vaginal walls to thin. Vaginal atrophy, typically occurring in postmenopausal women, is the thinning, drying, and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to decreased estrogen. Indicators of vaginal dryness include itching, burning, stinging, and painful intercourse.
What can you do to combat skin changes associated with menopause?
Here’s the good news: The science of aging, skin, and menopause are rapidly advancing and companies like OneSkin and Kindra are at the forefront of these innovations, delivering technology and products that could make menopause-related skin changes a thing of the past!
OneSkin’s topical supplements - OS-01 FACE and OS-01 BODY - are super powered by their proprietary peptide, OS-01. The OS-01 peptide has been scientifically proven to increase the activity of genes associated with collagen and hyaluronic acid production, combating the decline observed during menopause, and leading to improved hydration, strength, and firmness. The OS-01 peptide has also been shown to increase skin’s epidermal thickness and aid in damage repair. Combined with other antioxidant supporting ingredients, OS-01 FACE and OS-01 BODY bolster your skin’s oxidative defenses to help reverse the signs of skin aging.
Kindra’s Daily Vaginal Lotion features an essential blend of feather light, ultra-hydrating extracts, including coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, safflower seed oil, and moisture loving humectants. Plus, skin-critical vitamin E and B3 (niacinamide) support the healing of the skin-moisture barrier over time. When used daily, Kindra’s Daily Vaginal Lotion helps dramatically improve dryness in intimate areas, leaving you in long-lasting comfort.
If you are experiencing severe dryness and discomfort, Kindra’s V Relief Serum is for you. Formulated with a biomimetic peptide clinically-studied to reduce skin sensitivity and reactivity, including stinging, burning, and itching. This gentle yet potent peptide is combined with hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and coconut oil to support intimate skin hydration and nourishment.