Your Menstrual Cycle and Your Skin
It's important for your general well-being to know how your menstrual cycle can affect your skin. Here you can learn exactly what changes occur in your skin due to your hormones.
You might have wondered sometimes how your menstrual cycle affects your skin. After all, you’ll probably have noticed changes to your complexion that occur each month for no apparent reason!
Here we explain the hormonal influences that have a direct effect on your skin.
How do menstrual cycle hormones affect your skin?
Several sex hormones are involved in the female menstrual cycle: estrogens and progesterone. Over the month these hormones have different effects on different organs. Amongst these organs is your skin.
These hormones affect the hydration of the dermis. They can also increase or decrease the sensitivity of the receptors in the dermis. To know exactly how your menstrual cycle affects your skin, we need to analyze each hormone separately.
- Estrogen stimulates collagen production. Collagen’s a fiber that gives your skin its strength and elasticity. In fact, the decrease in estrogen at the menopause stage explains the appearance of wrinkles in women over forty.
- Estrogen hydrates your skin. In fact, an increase in estrogen is associated with a higher content of hyaluronic acid in your skin. Hyaluronic acid is a water retainer. Estrogen also facilitates the healing of wounds.
- On the other hand, progesterone has been linked to the production of oil in your skin. This lubricates the epidermis. Also, progesterone increases the vascularity of the organs (increasing blood flow to the cells).
How’s each phase of your menstrual cycle affected?
What happens at each phase of your menstrual cycle and how does it affect your skin? Well, the cycle is so-called because it is, indeed, a cyclical process that takes place every 28 days (more or less). We’ll discuss these phases in more detail following observations from the British Association of Dermatologists.
The menstrual phase
This is the phase where one cycle ends, and another starts. This is when your menstrual bleeding occurs, which lasts for about five days. At this time both estrogen and progesterone are at minimal levels.
You might find your skin prone to dryness at this time. Indeed, because of your low hormonal levels, hydration in your dermis cells is reduced. As well as dryness, your skin might be extra sensitive at this time. Furthermore, you might be more prone to skin lesions and scarring.
Along with this lack of moisture, there’s also a lower concentration of oil in your skin. The sebaceous glands decrease their activity which affects moisture levels. This also adds to the risk of skin lesions.
After menstruation, hormones begin to increase in your body. However, they aren’t yet sufficient to alter the condition of your skin.
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In these five days after your menstrual cycle, your skin’s usually in more or less the same condition as your menstrual phase. In fact, in some women, the menstrual phase lasts longer and overlaps with the pre-fertility phase.
This is usually around day ten of your cycle. In this phase, estrogen increases significantly and rises to its peak around day fourteen. This is the point that determines fertility. In other words, you can become pregnant.
In this phase, there’s plenty of estrogens and your dermis is smooth and hydrated. Furthermore, hyaluronic acid retains water and collagen provides tissue resistance. So this is the best moment in your menstrual cycle for your skin, because of its ability to regenerate.
Post-fertility or luteal phase
Once ovulation occurs, estrogens begin to decline, though they’re still active. The goal is for them to continue to retain water to deal with the dryness that appears in the menstrual period.
At the same time, the drop in estrogen is accompanied by an increase in progesterone. This hormone is produced in anticipation of the possibility of a pregnancy. Indeed, if gestation doesn’t occur by the 28th day, progesterone levels decrease once more.
Increased progesterone stimulates the sebaceous glands that promote the appearance of acne in the last phase of your menstrual cycle. In fact, if you know how your menstrual cycle affects your skin, you’ll know that this phase is the time that the dermis produces the highest amount of oil. Experts such as R. Grimalt Santacana recommend treatment by a dermatologist for the most severe cases.
Continue reading Signs and Symptoms of High Estrogen Levels
Skin diseases and the menstrual cycle
As well as the regular changes of each phase of the menstrual cycle, it’s known that it also affects existing skin diseases. In fact, women with ongoing skin disorders tend to notice occasional changes throughout the month.
For example, an eczema sufferer might experience worse symptoms in the luteal phase of their cycle. They might suffer more itching and redness in the days leading up to menstruation. It then improves after the menstrual bleeding has stopped.
On the other hand, a study published in 2015 by the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology explains that women with psoriasis might suffer lesser symptoms of the disease on days when their estrogen levels are at their highest. For this reason, the medical profession’s trying to find treatments to deal with these kinds of problems.
The importance of seeing a specialist
The most intense period of aggravation for acne is in the luteal phase of your cycle. As you’ve read, at this time, high levels of progesterone increase the activity of the sebaceous glands. This means the levels of oil in your skin increase.
This is all perfectly normal. However, if you’re suffering from severe symptoms, you should see a dermatologist. They can give you a proper diagnosis and also prescribe the best treatment.