Your Secret to Better Skin at Midlife

Did you know estrogen is an essential component of skin function? That’s right, those unwelcome skin changes at midlife are related to perimenopause and menopause. Most women just assume their skin changes are part of the natural aging process. In reality that is true, because as we age our hormone production decreases and then eventually stops. Leaving our skin thirsty for estrogen.

Studies have shown that women lose 30% of skin collagen in the first five years of menopause, with a continued loss of 2% per menopause year over 20 years.  Treating estrogen-deficient skin sooner is the secret to younger looking skin.

Once skin becomes estrogen-deficient it undergoes cellular changes responsible for decreases in collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, mucopolysaccharides and other growth factors that are associated with unwanted aging skin symptoms. Estrogen-deficient skin is often described as dry, thin, wrinkly and itchy.  Many women even complain of feeling their skin is crawling!

Women who use hormone therapy enjoy the benefits of healthier skin.  Unfortunately, skin changes themselves are not a medical indication to use estrogen.  Those who are on the fence deciding to treat their bothersome menopause symptoms can consider improvement to their skin an added benefit!  Estrogen has been shown to maintain skin elasticity, hydration and thickness.

Estrogen also stimulates fat deposits in the female body. During menopause, fat deposits become redistributed and concentrated over the abdomen, the cause of that unwanted bloat. This results in a loss of supportive fat below the skin of the face, neck, hands and arms. Wrinkles appear and the skin over these areas lose its mobility.

If estrogen is not your thing, don’t fret. Topical retinol products are very helpful to combat unwanted skin changes due to aging. Many over the counter options work great and we usually suggest you try one first. If you have used an over the counter retinol product without good results, or the mild dose just does not seem to be working as well any longer, prescription tretinoin cream is readily available and cost effective.

Prevention of fine lines and wrinkles is key! Preventing skin changes is always easier than reversing them. Since we know women begin to experience hormonal changes in their 40’s, we recommend adding a topical retinol product to your beauty regimen at the big 40! And don’t forget your sunscreen.

Barbra Hanna, DO, FACOG, MSCP

Barbra Hanna, DO, FACOG, MSCP

Dr Barbra Hanna, a board-certified OB/GYN and Menopause Society Certified Practitioner has 25+ years experience in women's health. She founded MyMenopauseRx to fill the void in menopause healthcare.