If it seems like every time you look in the mirror you find more wrinkles and sagging, you might be searching for ways to stop the signs of aging on your skin. Many women experience what seems like accelerated signs of aging on their skin after menopause. However, we have some good news. Some recent evidence suggests that estrogen replacement therapy may help prevent some of the signs of aging and may promote healthy skin. Researchers are still studying the effects of estrogen on the skin, but many of the studies have been encouraging. Let’s talk about estrogen, menopause, aging, and your skin.
First, let’s discuss why a hormone doctor may recommend estrogen replacement therapy. While everyone is different, one of the most common reasons our providers prescribe hormone therapy is to alleviate symptoms of menopause. Many menopause symptoms are unpleasant and can even interfere with everyday life. For instance, some of the symptoms you might experience during menopause include:
Declining levels of estrogen during menopause are primarily to blame for these symptoms. Fortunately, many women find symptom relief through a hormone replacement therapy regimen. This is why our providers may recommend beginning estrogen replacement therapy during menopause.
Menopause may also have negative effects on your skin which can make you look older. For instance, after menopause skin thickness typically decreases by about 1% each year for the first five years after menopause. Collagen in your skin also tends to decrease by 2% each year for about 20 years after menopause. Low estrogen levels may also be responsible for some of these changes, which is why researchers are looking into the potential anti-aging effects of estrogen. Research is still ongoing, but much of the evidence so far is positive.
There are many factors that can make our skin look older. Environmental, genetic, and hormone conditions can all contribute to common signs of aging. Declining hormone levels during and after menopause may contribute to issues like increasing number of wrinkles, deeper wrinkles, less elasticity, dryness, as well as other skin issues that tend to make us look older. There are many estrogen receptors in the skin, particularly in the skin on your face. This may explain some of the effects of menopause on your skin. However, some research indicates estrogen replacement therapy may help prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging.
For example, one 2005 study from Yale University looked at the effects of long-term estrogen therapy on wrinkles and skin rigidity. The researchers in the study found that women who used hormone therapy had fewer wrinkles, less severe wrinkles, and better skin elasticity.
This small study included eleven women who did not use hormone therapy after menopause and 9 women who did use hormone therapy long-term for menopause symptoms. All the women had similar characteristics that might contribute to wrinkles and skin rigidity, such as age, sun exposure, and tobacco use. The researchers had a plastic surgeon assess the appearance of the skin without knowing who was in the control group and who was in the hormone replacement therapy group. The women who didn’t use hormone therapy on average had more wrinkles, deeper wrinkles, and more rigid skin.
Based on the results, the researchers concluded that estrogen may promote skin health and may also prevent wrinkles and skin rigidity to help the skin look younger. While estrogen likely won’t reverse or erase signs of aging, it may offer some protection against wrinkles and other common skin concerns in menopausal women.
Estrogen may impact the look of your skin in many ways. Researchers are still studying the reasons why estrogen may prevent some signs of skin aging. Estrogen may affect skin cell production, collagen production, hydration, and thickness of your skin. All these factors can affect the appearance of your skin.
Some researchers believe that estrogen moderates the production of keratinocytes. These are skin cells that make up nearly 90% of the cells in the top layer of your skin. When we are young, skin cells are in a near-constant state of turnover. The dead skin cells slough off rapidly as the lower levels of your skin produce more new skin cells. However, this process tends to slow down as we age, and declining estrogen levels during menopause may play a role in this. Estrogen replacement therapy may help increase skin cell production which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dull skin.
Another way estrogen may help prevent signs of aging on your skin is through collagen production. Estrogen receptors may also act on the fibroblasts in the dermal layer of your skin. Fibroblasts are responsible for creating collagen, which provides the main support structure for your skin. As collagen production declines, the skin can start to sag and develop more wrinkles. However, estrogen may increase how much collagen your skin produces to help prevent these issues.
Female hormones estrogen and progesterone can also improve hydration for the skin. For instance, hormones can affect how much sebum your body produces. Sebum is an oily substance that coats your skin and hair to help with moisturization and protection. As we enter menopause, sebum production can also slow down, leading to chronically dry skin. Dry skin can make wrinkles and fine lines look much deeper than they truly are. However, many researchers have found that estrogen replacement therapy can help increase hydration and moisture in the epidermis.
Your hormones can also have a pretty big impact on how thick your skin is. Thinner skin tends to become more wrinkled, less elastic, dryer, and also more easily damaged. During our pre-menopausal years, the skin actually gets thinner at certain points of the menstrual cycle, particularly right before your period where your estrogen levels are at their lowest. Therefore, low estrogen levels during menopause may contribute to thinning skin as we age. Some studies have found that estrogen replacement therapy may increase skin thickness significantly after menopause.
Of course, there are many other things you can do to help take care of your skin during and after menopause. Estrogen isn’t the fountain of youth – even if it does help prevent some wrinkles, it isn’t a cure-all for aging. Hormones are only one part of what ages your skin over time. Embracing your skin as it changes and taking part in a good skincare regimen can also help keep your skin healthy in menopause.
For instance, you may experience dry skin after menopause. In these cases, it can help to switch to a milder cleanser and to moisturize more often and with heavier creams. Also, sun damage can lead to even thinner skin after menopause. Wearing sunscreen can help reduce sun damage that may cause issues like thinning skin, age spots, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. In addition, retinol products can help increase collagen, which may help with wrinkles or sagging skin. So, whether you’re taking bioidentical hormones for menopause or not, there are many things you can do to help your skin after menopause.
Our team at HerKare is here to help you feel like the best version of yourself. We empower you to take control of your health through convenient, affordable healthcare. We understand you want to feel and look your best at every stage of life, which is why we offer personalized care for everything from wellness exams to menopausal hormone therapy. You can trust us to listen to your concerns and work with you to find treatment options that work well for you. Make an appointment today to discuss your health and symptoms with our caring team of medical professionals.