March 30, 2022

Perimenopause with Dr Katherine Armour


“Perimenopause” refers to the stage before menopause. This is when your ovaries start producing less oestrogen, and typically, it happens in your 40s, though for some women it can begin much earlier.   To an extent us ladies are at the whim of the hormonal changes that beset us in perimenopause and menopause.  Believe me, I hear you, I’m in the thick of “peri” myself. Perimenopause can last anywhere between 1 and 10 years.

You may be aware that perimenopause brings with it some fairly significant changes. The Jean Hailes Institute states that up to 20% of women experience moderate to severe symptoms due to the hormonal fluctuations of perimenopause.  These may include hot flushes, night sweats, sleep issues, vaginal dryness, mood changes including irritability, and weight gain. But did you know that our skin is hugely impacted by changes in oestrogen?   

What affect does perimenopause have on our skin?

The decrease in oestrogen contributes to: fine lines and wrinkles, increased oil production or dryness, sensitivity, rosacea, and acne.

Due to the fluctuating levels of oestrogen and progesterone associated with our ovaries winding down, the effects of androgens such as testosterone can be unmasked. 

Testosterone stimulates our sebaceous glands to make more sebum, those of us whose oil glands are particularly sensitive to testosterone may see outbreaks of acne, particularly when our oestrogen levels dip pre-menstrually.  

Some women, don’t experience the oiliness and breakouts of perimenopause, but notice that their skin has become dry, itchy and irritable. Some will experience rosacea for the first time in perimenopause (exacerbated by hot flushes), and others will notice an exacerbation of pre-existing rosacea.

Decrease in collagen.

On average, collagen levels diminish by 2% per year over the first 15 years after our last period.  This loss of collagen, is a major contributor to wrinkle and fine line formation, and starts in perimenopause as our ovaries start to “wind down” their production of oestrogen. 

So, not much of this seems like good news. But, help is at hand!  Your dermatologist can help you with the cosmetic issues related to perimenopause, as well as significant issues such as hair thinning, vaginal dryness, itchy skin, breakouts, rosacea and acne.

Are there skincare ingredients that I should look out for?

There’s plenty you can do at home to help soften some of these perimenopause-related skin changes. Many OTC cosmeceutical skincare ingredients can support and protect collagen production, reduce pigmentation and regulate excessive oil production. Look out for DNA Repair Enzymes, Retinoids (Vitamin A) or Bakuchiol, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and antioxidants. All of which you’ll find in Bespoke.

Where possible, look for skincare products that are free of fragrance, particularly if you fall into the dry and irritated group.  

If you’re looking for products to suit your changing skin, as always, we are happy help. Simply live chat us or take our Bespoke skin care quiz.

Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved. There are lots of health practitioners who can help with symptoms of perimenopause – your GP, gynaecologist, endocrinologist and dermatologist can all assist you, and, for some of us, speaking to a dietician can also be useful.  Check out the Australasian Menopause Society for info as well the the Jean Hailes Institute website.  These are both amazing resources. 

The women behind Bespoke

What does IWD mean to you?

KA: International Women’s Day is a time to be grateful for all the amazing women in my life who have mentored, cared for, and inspired me – from my Mum, to close friends, and teachers.

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