Feeling dry? It’s not you. It’s your hormones.
Though menopausal symptoms present differently in women, one collective experience we may all share is dryness. Dry skin. Dry nails and hair. Dryness down there. This can do a real number on our confidence.
Let’s take a look at why we experience dryness. And then we can talk about some lifestyle changes that can improve our natural moisture.
Why do we get so dry during menopause?
Much of the dryness you experience has a lot to do with hormonal changes. Among its many functions, estrogen helps regulate moisture levels in the body and stimulates collagen and oil production. Collagen and oils make the skin feel smooth and elastic while creating a waterproof barrier to hold in moisture. Collagen also gives strength, volume, and elasticity to the skin.
Both estrogen and collagen levels lower during menopause. This makes your body’s natural moisture levels drop. Skin can become less plump, and you may notice more dryness, dullness, sagging, and breakouts.
Lower estrogen also means your hair growth cycle shortens. You may notice hair shedding sooner than it used to, and changes to your hair texture, length, and fullness. Estrogen is also one of the hormones that also contribute to regulating water levels in your body. So, loss of estrogen means you do not hydrate as well as you used to.
And as far as vaginal dryness goes…
… you can probably guess lower estrogen is the prime culprit. Less estrogen may cause the vulva and the lining of the vagina to become thinner, drier, and less elastic. Natural vaginal secretions slow down, resulting in decreased lubrication. This can lead to irritation and discomfort (especially during sex).
So, what can we do about menopause-related dryness?
It’s likely time to level up your moisture game. Apply a quality moisturizer regularly, and look for ones that are pH balanced to suit your skin. The buck doesn’t stop with topical skincare, though. Lifestyle changes can also help reduce the effects of menopausal dry skin. This means eating a balanced diet, which includes plenty of lean protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and essential Omega-3 fatty acids. Eat foods that boost your skin’s natural oils such as cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds. Smoking and alcohol can also worsen the effects of dry and itchy skin. It’s essential to cut back or quit altogether when possible.
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