Sunday, October 05, 2014
Perimenopause is the transition leading up to menopause, when hormonal changes and imbalances often begin to take place. Most women experience perimenopause in their mid to late 40s, although it can occur as early as the 30s or as late as the 50s. Perimenopause can last up to 15 years with symptoms changing, growing more frequent or becoming more severe.
During both menopause and perimenopause, extreme shifts in the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone take place. When hormonal ratios and balance are disrupted, a state called hormonal imbalance, it leads to the common symptoms.
Menopauseitself is normal and every woman is going to experience it. A woman is technically in menopause when her menstrual periods have stopped for a full year. While the average age of menopause is 52, women can begin menopause as early as age 30.
That reduction of estrogen, and the changing ratios of hormones in your body, don't just slow down your body's oil production, they also reduce your body's ability to retain moisture.
As a woman gets closer to menopause, the following changes begin to occur in the skin:
Oily Skin: During the reproductive years, B-Estradiol stimulates a more fluid sebaceous gland secretion (anti-acne effect). During menopause, as estrogen levels decrease, testosterone is no longer masked in the woman’s body. Testosterone reveals itself by stimulating sebaceous glands to secrete thicker sebum, giving the appearance of oily skin and the tendency toward adult acne in some women.
Facial Hair: Also due to the unmasking of testosterone, some women may develop facial hair, particularly in the chin area.
Sagging Skin and Wrinkles: Estrogens stimulate fat deposits over the female body; as estrogen levels drop during menopause, fat deposits tend to become redistributed and often concentrated over the abdomen and/or on the thighs and buttocks. The result is a loss of supportive fat below the skin of the face, neck, hands and arms; this allows sagging wrinkles to appear, and the skin over these areas is less easily compressed, as it loses its mobility. Also, fat deposits are reduced in the breasts, resulting in loss of turgor, which causes the breasts to begin to sag and flatten.
Elastosis: Collagen and elastin, are partially controlled by estrogens. Thus, during menopause, the lowered estrogen levels result in less production and repair of collagen and elastin in the dermis of the skin. This lack of repair is particularly pronounced if the skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays are very destructive to collagen, and if we lose our repair mechanism, then we lose our skin’s resiliency. This results in elastosis.
Thinning Epidermis: The growth and maintenance of blood capillaries in the dermis are partially under the control of the estrogens. Thus, blood flow through the dermal capillaries is reduced during menopause, and less nutrients and oxygen are available to the Stratum Germinativum or Basal Cell layers of the epidermis. This contributes to the thinning of the epidermis and a slower cell turnover rate, leading to increased trans-epidermal water loss and dry skin.
More Prone to Sun Damage: The maintenance of Melanocytes (cells that manufacture the pigment Melanin) is under the control of estrogens. As menopause progresses, the number of melanocytes in the skin is reduced (they degenerate). With less melanocytes, we produce less of the protective melanin and skin appears lighter. Menopausal skin is, therefore, more prone to sun damage, making it even more important to protectthe skin with a sunblock.
Hyperpigmentation /Age Spots: Estrogens also temper melanin production. That is, estrogen exerts a regulatory effect on the production of melanin; it keeps it under control. In areas of the skin that have been exposed to UV rays over the years, as menopause arrives, melanin synthesis increases (due to lack of regulation by estrogen). This can result in brown “age spots” appearing on the face, hands, neck, arms and chest of many women.
Hot Flashes: Hot flashes are typically defined by a strong sense of warmth in the skin, (mainly the face), followed by excessive sweating. It had long been thought that hot flashes were caused directly by the abrupt lowering of B-Estradiol levels, but we now know that a woman’s sympathetic nervous system is more active after menopause because of low estrogen, causing the dilation of skin arterioles and sweating, as well as the rise in body temperature and an increase in heart rate. Hour-to-hour changes in the secretion of the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland of post-menopausal women have also been associated with hot flashes.
Tips for Dry Skin Care During Menopause
To help turn dry, problem skin into smoother, fresher skin, experts offer these quick tips for women during perimenopause and menopause.Focus on smart fats: Essential fatty acids: Omega-3s found in salmon, walnuts, fortified eggs, or algae oils help produce your skin's oil barrier, vital in keeping skin hydrated.
Smooth on that sunscreen: Defend your skin with with "a broad spectrum sunblock with UVA and UVB protection to your skincare regimen, cover all sun-exposed skin.
Use a gentle soap: Scented, antibacterial, or deodorant soaps can be harsh, removing your body's essential oils, leaving skin even more itchy and dry. Instead, reach for an unscented or lightly scented bar.
To help moisturizers penetrate the skin, try exfoliating, sloughing off the top layer of dead skin with a gentle scrubs containing alpha hydroxy acids and vitamin E to help protect and nourish skin at a higher level.