Anti AgingEstrogen and Your Skin

Estrogen is an essential component of skin function. It has been shown to maintain skin elasticity, hydration and thickness. 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.

Estrogen also stimulates fat deposits in the female body. During menopause, fat deposits often become redistributed and concentrated over the abdomen and/or on the thighs and buttocks. 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 loses its mobility.

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.1 Treating estrogen-deficient skin sooner should keep skin looking younger longer.

Estrogen and Your Hair

Hair loss during the menopause transition and menopause is common. Hormones influence hair growth.2 Hair follicles contain estrogen and androgen receptors.3,4 Estrogen is believed to protect against hair loss, influencing the follicle cycle. During menopause, estrogen is low and testosterone levels are usually normal or slightly decreased. The decrease in the estrogen to testosterone ratio may lead to patterned hair loss in some women.5,6 In menopause, female pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia) is the most common type of hair loss. Women who are currently using hormone replacement therapy and stop can unmask female pattern hair loss.

Estrogen and Your Vaginal Health

Estrogen promotes vaginal health. It maintains the acid pH in the vagina, promotes microbial balance with protective bacteria and lactobacilli, thickens the vaginal mucosa, and maintains normal vaginal fluid. In hypo-estrogenic states such as natural menopause, surgical menopause (removal of both ovaries), use of some medications that treat endometriosis or fibroids, amenorrhea (no period) due to hormonal in-balance, pelvic radiation, chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, genital symptoms of menopause can occur. Symptoms include vaginal dryness, pain with sex, frequent urinary tract infections, urinary urgency, vaginal/vulvar burning, itching, general irritation. Approximately 20% to 50% of US women experience vulvo-vaginal symptoms sometime during post-menopause.1

 

  1. Menopause Practice: A Clinician’s Guide, North American Menopause Society, 2014.
  2. Raine-Fenning NJ, Brincat MP, Muscat-Baron Y. Skin aging and menopause: implications for treatment. Am J Clin Dermatolo 2003;4(6):371-378
  3. Yoo HG, Won CH, Lee SR, et al. Expression and androgen and estrogen receptors in human scalp mesenchymal cells in vitro. Arch Dermatol Res. 2007;298(10):505-509
  4. Zouboulis CC, Chen WC, Thornton MJ, Qin K, Rosenfield R. Sexual hormones in human skin. Horm Metab Res. 2007;39(2):85-95
  5. Verdier-Sevrain S, Bonte’ F, Gilchrest B. Biology of estrogens in skin: implications for skin aging. Exp Dermatol. 2006;15(2):83-94
  6. Nathan L. Menopause and post menopause. In: DeCherney AH, Nathan L, Goodwin TM, Laufer N, Roman A, eds. Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Obstetrics and Gynecology. 11th ed. New York :McGraw Hill Medical 2012:948-970

 

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